Last weekend saw me make my debut at a Irish National Road Race. It was the Skerries meeting just above Dublin, held by the Loughshinny club. After a quick and on time flight from Eindhoven I arrived at 11 in the morning at Dublin airport. Straight into a well arranged taxi ride by EICL to the paddock. In time for scrutineering, this went well for the bike except my helmet. the MCUI official doubted the date of my helmet and almost tore the lining apart to get it checked. It’s a helmet that is only 2 yrs old and looks like that, has approval stickers from 3 nations. By befenit of the doubt I got the approval to race and a bullocking reprimand as if I was a newcomer to racing.
2pm saw me getting the bus ride for newcomers with extensive talking by local rider Andy Farelly. After just looking over gillies leap he says there is just one line over the crest. You aim for the telegraph pole, in which everyone shouts which one?? since we can see 4 of them, Oo the one with the white bale. Which of the 3 then? Oo the one in the middle. Hmm yes. I knew Olivers Mount was tight and small, Skerries takes this to the extreme. The back section really has one racing line, and if you get beside it your in trouble!
4pm sees me out on track for the first time for 5 newcomers laps behind a marshall, then straight afterwards 3 laps untimed for the open race. Track is still very dusty but weather conditions are fine. The R1 feels good also so we feel very confident. The timed practice went well, only 5 laps though so after some traffic found myself a bit of space to set a time. Ended up in 23rd position so got me qualified since the 24 riders would be classified according to the regs.
Saturday morning welcomes me with great summer weather again. After scrutineering for the 2nd time eventually the riders briefing starts. Because of concern that the first riders will lap the last riders with 3 waves of 8 riders it is decided that only 16 riders will start per race. Shame since this leaves me without a ride in the main open race, but start in the Non qualifiers race. But on the upside on the second row behind ‘Indi’ the Czech rider. After 2 warm up laps we park up at the grid in the 2nd row like stated on the sheet. Some frantic waving of officials sees the whole field reshuffled and gets me back on the 7th row. So I start in the 2nd wave on the 2nd row. I get a bad start, not my usual, have to get to grips to all the power of the big R1. After a few laps we got through traffic and had an open clear road in front of me. This gets me in a good ritm and I even got by some riders of the first wave. I end up in 7th place and better my laptime by 6 seconds.
Sadly my time is not good enough to be on the grid for the 17th fastest in the Grand Final race of the day. Would have been great to ride once again for the + 25.000 spectators that lined the track. And for sure I knew that my laptimes could have even be improved. So I enjoyed this thrilling race from behind the hedges myself and saw Micky D being once again be the man to beat. Saturday evening saw us heading to Ollies for a good party in support of the 2stroke supportersclub. Sunday we flew back home and I had a wonderful experience behind me. A big big thanks to Peter McMahon and his family and friends for giving me this opportunity. Sadly the R1 is not homologated anymore to race at the UGP what would have been a great for the Dundrod track. But maybe the near future will bring some new adventures? As the Irish would say ‘Keep er Lit’.