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The 2017 Masters Superbike Championship reaches what should be a thrilling climax on the weekend of September 30th and October 1st. As the series returns to the Mondello Park International Track, all eyes will be on the Superbike and Supersport battles where both titles will be fought out by between two riders.
Richie Ryan from Kilkenny has been the star of the Superbike Championship for most of the season, despite it being his debut year in the top class. Ryan was ever-present on the Superbike podium over the first eleven races of the year taking his Mobil1 Yamaha R1 to four second places before a run of five wins in a row. By half distance Ryan had a comfortable championship lead which he has held onto despite a fall off in results over the second half of the year.
The championship leaders’ main rival in the second half of the season has been Charles Stuart, who took his first ever Superbike win at round twelve. Stuart, on his Parker Car Transport Yamaha, won again at the next race and continued to close the gap when the series visited Bishopscourt, outscoring Ryan once more, to take the championship fight to the last event. Mark O’Byrne with his mobil-i backed BMW sits third but will have his work cut out to stay there as two more of the German machines, ridden by Luke Johnston and Peter Moloney, are within six points of his tally.
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The Superbike Cup is the most open battle of all the titles still to be decided with three riders in with a strong shout of winning the coveted title. Andrew Murphy from Limerick with his Kawasaki ZX10, has been the fastest ‘Cup’ rider all season but a number of crashes while trying to mix it with the Pro’s have kept his rivals in contention. Consistent strong finishes for Kerryman Raymond O’Neill and Sligo’s Michael Gillan have kept Murphy honest and now both go into the final event of the season with a strong shout for the championship.
Like Superbike, the Supersport Championship is also a tale of two riders with County Derry resident Jason Lynn leading Antrim’s Ross Patterson by a scant ten points going into the season finale. Lynn’s ageing Walter Bell Suzuki has served him well all year, carrying him to six wins and seven second places from sixteen races. Patterson equalled Lynn’s win tally, by taking two victories on his Kingsbury Kawasaki at Bishopscourt, to ensure that the title will not be decided until the final day of the season. Third place is still open, with Meath’s Aaron Clifford ahead of Cup rider Eunan McGlinchey from Aghadowey.
The Supersport Cup class has been dominated by McGlinchey, one of the rising stars of Irish Motorcycle Racing. The Aghadowey teenager has ridden an almost standard Suzuki to some incredible results and led overall on a number of occasions. Like Andrew Murphy in Superbike, McGlinchey’s desire to become the first ‘Cup’ rider to win a Supersport round outright led to him pushing too hard at times and falling off, but he was still able to wrap up the championship at Bishopscourt with three races left to go. Clontarf’s Luke O’Higgins and Gorey resident Graham Whitmore will therefore be left to battle it out over the runner-up spot.
Of the remaining Championships still to be decided the Principal Insurance Pre-Injection class is the hardest to call. Neither Darryl Sharkey or Joe Grant had won a race at the Masters prior to 2017, but now they sit at the top of the championship table with five wins each and just eight points separating them. Sharkey leads the way, but with seventy five points available over the final three races this battle could go either way.
The final three rounds of the Masters Superbike Championship take place over two days on September 30th and October 1st at Mondello Park, on the full International Circuit. Information on the event including the timetable is available from www.masterssuperbike.ie, where tickets for the weekend’s action can be purchased at pre-event discounts. The championship can also be followed on facebook and twitter and the season so far is available for review on the championship’s dedicated YouTube channel.