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The line up for the 2017 Masters Superbike Championship ‘Young Racer of the Year’ final is now complete with the addition of Aaron Clifford, following his nomination at the Masters season finale.
Clifford joins the six other finalists, Eunan McGlinchey, Rhys Irwin, Graham Whitmore, Jason Lynn, Brendan Glover and Ross Patterson in the shoot-out for the top prize in Irish Motorcycle Racing worth over €10,000, courtesy of the competitions supporters, Mondello Park owner Martin Birrane, Dawn International, AJ Plumbing Supplies and new backer Peter McMahon of European Industrial Chillers Ltd. (EICL).
Following an up and down season the teenager from Duleek County Meath secured third in the Masters Supersport Championship at Mondello Park, with his best performance of the year. For the first time since the opening event, the former Supersport Cup champion stood on the Mondello Park podium twice in one weekend, as he picked up his highest points tally of the season.
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Second place on the grid for race one gave the eighteen year old the start he was looking for and he backed it up with a strong run in the opening encounter. Clifford led champion elect Jason Lynn until the two swapped places on the penultimate lap. A last-ditch out-braking manoeuvre at the final corner almost worked for Clifford as he got by on the inside but was then beaten in the drag race to the flag, losing out on his second win of the season by less than a tenth of a second.
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A tyre issue in race two dropped Clifford out of the lead battle, but he still held on to fourth place to stave off the challenge from Eunan McGlinchey for third place in the championship. A better race three saw the youngster make a lightning start from fourth on the grid to take the lead but the race was then stopped due to an accident. The next time of asking he got away fourth and well in touch with the lead group. Clifford then battled past Kevin Keys to get on the tail of McGlinchey, which was enough to secure third spot on the road and in the final standings.
Speaking after picking up his second ‘Young Racer of the Year’ nomination in two seasons, Aaron said “I pushed really hard this weekend and had a really good finish to the championship. After all the bad luck we had this year it was a big confidence boost to be fighting at the front again and getting the Young Racer nomination has further increased my confidence, as I didn’t think I would get it following the season we’ve had. The way I finished the season will mean that I go to the Young Racer shoot-out feeling strong and I’ll be better prepared both on and off the track following the lessons I learned from last season’s final.”
Aaron Clifford now goes forward to the end of season finale where the 2017 Young Racer of the Year will be chosen. Details of the final will be announced over the coming days and the award winner will be announced at the Masters awards night in the Westgrove Hotel, Clane, on Saturday November 18th.