The Blakes Cross Service Station Killalane Road Races 2001

Saturday September 8th
Practice for the last road races of the season took place in bright sunshine, and the few clouds that were on view were hurried across the sky by a brisk breeze. Few incidents were reported, although Robert Dunlop had a fright when his 125 engine seized at a reported 120mph. Quick reactions on the clutch lever saved a potentially dodgy situation.

After practice, there were two races, the first being the 125cc non-championship race, in which Welshman Ian Lougher had a chance to reverse his Skerries defeat by Dunlop.

Race 1 - 125cc Non Championship Race
Sponsored by the Friends of Hugh Ritchie

Ian Lougher got the holeshot and led by about one second as they crossed the line to start lap two. Darren Burns, who was riding Mark Curtin's bike, was in third with Nigel Moore in fourth. Dunlop made up the distance on Lougher over the next two laps and took over the lead on lap four. He maintained his lead for the remaining three laps, and took the chequered flag with a small margin over the Welshman. Burns was a very good third with Moore fourth.

Race 2 - Open Non Championship Race
Sponsored by a supporter of pure road racing

A very even start meant that it was to be guesswork as to who would be leading when they rounded Schoolhouse corner for the first time. It was Archibald who just edged it from Donnan, with Alex Donaldson a safe third. As they came around for the second time, Donnan had taken over the lead and was never headed for remainder of the race. Archibald was like a coat of paint on Donnan's bike but try as he might his Honda Fireblade could not overhaul the Ardglass mans R1 and they crossed the finish line with less than a second between them. Donaldson was an impressive third, with Colin Rodgers fourth. Local hero Martin Finnegan won a great scrap with Ian Lougher for fifth place.

Sunday September 9th
Today's conditions were much cooler and a stiff breeze was to blow for most of the day. It remained dry though and the last two races were held in warm sunshine.

Race 1 - Classic A 250/350cc
Sponsored by DataTag

This race was red-flagged on the first lap following an incident between Kennedy's corner and Man-o-War. No serious injuries were reported. When the race was restarted it was Yorkshire man Paul Coward who lead the field with Colin Rodgers in hot pursuit. Chris McGahan slotted into third position and, although he was dropped by the red-hot pace of the leaders maintained his podium position to the flag. Meanwhile Coward and Rodgers were having a tremendous dice up front, with Coward holding off the Newtownards man until a great manoeuvre gave Rodgers the lead on Lap four. Coward tried everything in the book to overhaul Rodgers, but despite a scary moment when his back wheel stepped out while approaching a back marker on the penultimate lap, Rodgers held his nerve to take a brilliant win.

Race 2 - Support 401/750cc
Sponsored by The Man-o-War Pub

This race became rather processional in the latter stages, but was saved by the titanic battle at the front between Ian Forrestal and Liam Quinn. On recent form, it was Forrestal who started as favourite, but nobody told Quinn the script as he harried and hassled the New Ross man for the entire race. Forrestal rode like a man possessed but could not shake off Quinn who took advantage of a rare last corner error by Forrestal to steal the win by half a second. Local man Declan Lynch took the last podium position from Adrian Crossan.

Race 3 - 125cc Championship Race
Sponsored by Harp Farm/Sam Dennigan & Sons

This was always going to be a two-horse race between Dunlop and Lougher, and it was Dunlop who got the better start to lead by a second, with Burns in third and Ritchie fourth. The positions remained the same on lap two but the race was red-flagged on lap three when Burns clipped a ditch on the approach to Man-o-War corner. This section was certainly keeping the flagmen busy today. Burns was not badly hurt however and was taken to the paddock for attention. This was now a two-part race with aggregate times to count. The restart saw Dunlop resume normal service as the battle re-commenced, with Lougher never more than a few bike lengths away, with Ritchie in third and Victor Gilmore in fourth. Dunlop looked like holding his lead but Lougher made his move on lap 6 and lead as they headed off on their last lap. At the line it was Lougher by a whisker and then we had to wait for the times to be calculated. It was Dunlop who took the win by the very narrowest of margins to maintain his 100% record on Irish Roads this year.

Race 4 - Supersport 600cc Irish Championship Race
Sponsored by North Dublin car dismantlers / Eamon Mulligan Building Contractors

This was supposed to be a 7-lap race but somewhere along the line a lap was dropped by the wayside. However, any 600 race is worth watching, no matter how short it is, and this was a real humdinger. As they shot off the line it was Donnan who lead around the first lap with Archibald in close attendance and Rodgers, who was having a great meeting tight in third. Griffiths Finnegan and Quinn in that order were having their own dispute behind the leading trio. Donnan held his position until lap 4, when Archibald made his move. As he came by my position he was obviously on a mission and managed to stretch his advantage slightly to take the win by one and a half seconds. Donnan was a storming second with Rodgers a great third. The Griffiths Finnegan Quinn battle finished as it had begun, in that order.

Race 5 - Support 250/400cc Irish Championship
Sponsored by Santry Motorcycles
This turned into another two-man scrap between James McCullough and Adrian Fegan. Fegan lead on lap one but McCullough fought back to lead for the next three laps, with Peter Watson in third place and Stuart Garton in fourth. Fegan retook the lead on lap 5 and was never headed as he took the chequered flag with 1.5 seconds to spare over McCullough, with Garton getting the best of a great scrap with Watson to take the final podium place.

Race 6 - Junior 250 / SS400 (Irish Championship) 7 Laps
Sponsored by Lusk Motor Group

The previous race winner Adrian Fegan must have been still fired up for this one, for as he braked for Kennedy's on the first lap he slid off causing this race to be red-flagged also. The first lap did not count so the race was to be run over the full 7 laps. As they got away for the second time of asking, it was Lougher who stormed into the lead, followed by the flying Davy Morgan, with Rikki McCready third and Trevor Keys fourth. Lougher settled into a steady rhythm and held McCready at bay with a clinically calculated three-second lead. Morgan, although fighting a losing battle with Lougher, was head and shoulders above the rest of the chasing pack and is sure to be one to look out for in the future. McCready just got the better of a great race-long dice with Keys to take third.

Race 7 - Classic B 501/1000cc Irish Championship
Sponsored by Michael Seaver & Sons / C&T Supermarkets

Karl Wilkie was the man in form as he took an early lead from Chris McGahan on lap one with Denis Gallagher menacingly close behind in third. Gallagher took the lead on lap 2 with Wilkie glued to his rear wheel as they left McGahan in their wake. Martin Finnegan was an early retirement on lap two. The order remained the same until the last lap, when the unfortunate Wilkie retired with mechanical, leaving Gallagher to take the win. McGahan was second with Billy Lyle making up the podium.

Race 8 - Grand Final Irish Championship 201/1010cc
Sponsored by Blakes Cross Service Station & Tyre Centre

The final race of the 2001 road racing calendar proved to be a fitting finale to a great meeting and a somewhat difficult season for the sport. The line-up was formidable with Archibald Donnan Lougher and our own Martin Finnegan, all champing at the bit. On lap one it was Archibald who got the flyer with Donnan in close pursuit and Martin Finnegan breathing down their necks. It was Donnan who came around in the lead on lap 2 with Archibald on his back seat and Finnegan holding his own in third. Alex Donaldson was maintaining a good fourth position with Rodgers not far behind. Next it was Lougher who had decided that the big Suzuki was too much of a beast for the narrow twisting back roads of the Killalane circuit and chose the 250 instead. Griffiths Maguire and Quinn maintained station behind. On lap 4 Archibald again took the lead and, although Donnan tried everything to catch him he held his nerve and the lead to the chequered flag. Finnegan was a superb third with Donaldson Rodgers Lougher Griffiths Maguire Quinn and Damian Mulleady making up the top ten.

And finally…
And so we come to the end of another road racing season. It has been a funny old year, what with so many cancellations due to foot and mouth and other difficulties. The Killalane races were a great success as were the Skerries races earlier in the year and the Loughshinny club deserve high praise indeed for manner in which these events were run. It only remains for me to say that less is often more, and what's seldom is great. Looking forward to next year already.

Bye for now
Eddie Byrne

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