Irwin and Barr get off to brilliant start at Preston Docks

Graeme Irwin (number 5) takes his first win of the 2016 season. INLT 10-917-CON
Graeme Irwin (number 5) takes his first win of the 2016 season. INLT 10-917-CON

East Antrim riders Graeme Irwin and Martin Barr made the perfect start to the 2016 season, dominating Sunday’s opening round of the MX Nationals at Preston Docks on their Buildbase Honda debut, taking the overall wins in the MX1 and MX2 classes.

On a cold winter’s morning Carrick’s Graeme Irwin and Doagh’s Martin Barr topped qualification and both got off to a great start in the day’s first mixed-capacity pro race.

Martin Barr has made the perfect start to the 2016 season. INLT 10-916-CON

Martin Barr has made the perfect start to the 2016 season. INLT 10-916-CON

In a tough opening race, Irwin controlled things from the front and never looked troubled to take a comfortable 25-second victory. Barr crossed the line as first MX2 rider home in fourth.

Kristian Whatley made the better start in the second race before the Carrick man took over at the front. With a bright, low sun making conditions difficult, Irwin slipped to second and with the overall in the bag, he rode with his head to secure the top step on the podium.

“That was awesome,” smiled Graeme. “It was a tough last race with the low sun making visibility hard but I had good speed so I’m happy with it. Brad [Anderson] got by me and then I got onto a couple of his lines and I got up alongside him on the last lap.

“I didn’t get it done but I’m still first overall. We had a great off-season with the bike and team and all the hard work paid off. The Buildbase Honda worked well today and I’m now looking forward to this weekend and Culham Park for the Pirelli Masters.”

Barr, having his first British outing on the Buildbase Honda, topped the MX2 class twice to open up a healthy championship lead.

“It’s been a mega day, I couldn’t have asked for much more,” he said. “In race one I got a really good start lying seventh on lap one and worked my way up to fourth overall and first MX2.

In the second race the sun was really, really low and I couldn’t see very well so I didn’t push the boat out. I just did what I had to do to get to the finish.”

He added: The Buildbase Honda worked really well. My dad has done an amazing job on the engine. It is just a brilliant package and I couldn’t be happier.”