MOTORBIKES: Barr and Irwin target success at Desertmartin

Graeme Irwin heads to Desertmartin in good form. INLT 23-917-CON

Graeme Irwin heads to Desertmartin in good form. INLT 23-917-CON

This weekend sees East Antrim riders Martin Barr and Graeme Irwin return home for round four of the Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship when the series returns to one of the most popular tracks in the world, Desertmartin.

Desertmartin, run by the small but hard-working Cookstown and District Motocross Club, will be making a welcomed return to the Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship after being missing from the calendar for a couple of years. It’s an eagerly anticipated meeting by the many thousands of local fans who are expected to swamp the red sands of Desertmartin to support both Barr and Irwin in their quest to become British champions.

Martin Barr aims to keep the red plate at this weekend's British MX2 races at Desertmartin. INLT 23-918-CON

Martin Barr aims to keep the red plate at this weekend's British MX2 races at Desertmartin. INLT 23-918-CON

Doagh man Barr won the last round of the 2016 MX2 championship, which took place at Hawkstone Park, Shropshire, on May 22 with a third and a win that gave him the overall victory and the all important red plate that adorns the front of his Buildbase Honda. It was his first race win in two years with his last success ironically coming at Desertmartin three years ago.

“I’m really looking forward to racing at Desertmartin, especially now with the red plate,” said Barr. “It’s going to be something special in front of all of my family and friends.

“I know the guys at the track have been doing a lot of work over the last few weeks just to get it ready and I’m just hoping they get a bit of weather on their side this time but I’m sure that everybody is going to come out in force to support myself and Graeme Irwin.

“The last time I was here was back in 2013 and I can’t wait to race again in front of the home fans. As a family we have worked hard to get to this stage and although I lead the championship coming into my home race I’m not thinking about the title just yet. I want to keep focusing on the podium at each round and the championship will take care of itself. Desertmartin is one of my favourite tracks in the world and I will give it 100 per cent on Sunday and hopefully leave with the red plate still on the front of my bike.”

Eugene Laverty. INLT 23-919-CON

Eugene Laverty. INLT 23-919-CON

Barr’s Buildbase Honda team-mate, Carrick’s Graeme Irwin, is currently sitting third in the 450cc MX1 class and is aiming to win in front of his home fans.

He said: “I am so excited about returning to Desertmartin. It was back in 2013 that I last raced there and I took the win in race one, then the bike cut out in race two so I’m looking to at least make the podium in both this time. The bike is going really well and I don’t care what the conditions are on - I’m fired up and ready to race.”

Practice starts at 9:00am, the first race starts at 11:55am. Adults (£20) and children (£5).

Both Irwin and Barr were in action at Landrake, Devon, for the Pirelli Masters on Sunday and the pair left the meeting leading their respective championships.

“I qualified fastest and despite crashing on lap two in race one I remounted to finish second by the chequered flag,” Irwin said. “I won race two and took the overall lead in the championship. I couldn’t have asked for a better outing before Desertmartin.”

In the MX2 class, Barr came away still leading the title race. “It was close racing all day,” he said. “In race one I finished second to Stephen Clarke, then in race two it was Clarke, Brian McKenzie and myself all battling for the win. I finished third taking second overall so I can’t complain. My starts this weekend were much better which is good going into this weekend at Desertmartin.”

Dunlop sets record

History was made in the opening race of the 2016 Isle of Man TT races as Michael Dunlop shattered the lap and race records with the first ever sub-17 minute lap of the Mountain Course to win the RST Superbike race.

The 27-year old’s first two laps were both under 17 minutes, the quickest being 133.393mph to win by 19 seconds from Ian Hutchinson, who was also inside the outright lap record, with John McGuinness claiming third. His race winning time was a staggering 1m 15.643s inside the old race record.

Laverty in the points

Valentino Rossi took victory in Sunday’s MotoGP race ahead of Marc Márquez and Dani Pedrosa, after initial leader Jorge Lorenzo was taken out in an incident with Andrea Iannone on Lap 6.

Aspar Team rider Eugene Laverty continued his points-scoring streak in the World Championship, finishing 13th and claiming three points. The Ulsterman had expected to finish inside the top 10 but tyre issues meant he couldn’t sustain the early pace.