Richie Ryan made the most of the absence of championship leader Charles Stuart from rounds seven, eight and nine of the Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship, on April 26th & 27th, by taking three wins from three races on the Mondello Park International Track. Stuart suffered and engine blow up during Friday testing leaving the way open for both Ryan and Peter Moloney to overtake him in the championship chase.
Qualifying for Superbike race one was led by the BMW of Luke Johnston who took his second pole position of the season, beating Ryan's Yamaha R1 by less than a tenth of a second, but it was Ryan who made the best of the start to take the lead. The BMW of Moloney also got the better of Johnston to set up a battle that would carry on across all three of the weekend's races. Moloney was in the best form of his Masters career as he chased down Ryan but failed to take what would have been his first win by just over a tenth of a second.
Moloney was the early leader of race two as Ryan dropped to third behind the Kawasaki of Andrew Murphy but but by the end of lap three the race one winner was back to second. Moloney held on at the front for another lap before succumbing to the pressure as Ryan moved past and built a lead of a second and a half by the flag. Moloney came home second well clear of reigning 'Cup' champion Murphy, who took his first overall podium.
The final race of the weekend was again a battle between Ryan and Moloney with the top two pulling well clear of third placed Luke Johnston. Ryan again took victory by a slender margin from Moloney to move into the championship lead.
The Superbike 'Cup' class produced its now customary titanic battle and its fifth different winner of the season. Frank Doherty took race one while Michael Prendergast was the winner of the second race. The final race saw Chris Campbell take his first Cup win ahead of impressive podium first timer Jamie O'Keefe. Two third places and a seventh were enough for Gary O'Brien to maintain his championship lead.
British Championship racer and reigning Supersport Cup champion Eunan McGlinchey joined the Dunlop Supersport class for the weekend and carried off a pair of wins ahead of championship top two Emmett O'Grady and Dean McMaster. Starting second McGlinchey made short work of taking the lead for race one, which he then led all the way from Emmett O'Grady and Dean McMaster. The early race two order was McMaster from McGlinchey and O'Grady but by the closing stages it was O'Grady who had come from behind to take the lead. The championship regular looked set for the win but a blistering final lap saw McGlinchey pip him on the line by less than a bike length.
McGlinchey did not make the start of the final race of the weekend leaving O'Grady and McMaster to battle for the lead. The championship top two swapped places constantly for the first five laps before O'Grady was finally able to make a break, building a lead of almost four seconds by the flag. Dave Butler just beat Mike Browne for the final podium position. In the Supersport Cup Keelim Ryan took advantage of a below par weekend for Eoin Collins to build his championship lead, taking all three victories and the Aidan Lynam memorial trophy. Kevin Baker and Wayne Sheehan filled the remaining podium positions in all three races with Collins only managing a best result of fourth place.
The Principal Insurance Pre-Injection championship has turned into a benefit for one of last seasons most impressive rookies, Ian Prendergast. Having failed to finish the opening race the relative newcomer has now taken eight wins on the trot to open up a commanding championship lead over first round winner Kevin Madigan who finished runner up Prendergast on each occasion. Cian Donaghy and Anthony Lillis shared the third placed spoils.
The Masters is back on the Mondello Park International track in just three weeks time for Rounds ten, eleven and twelve on June 16th and 17th.