2 min read
Kells Road Races Classic Round Up. Manly does the double.

All roads led to Kells last Saturday and Sunday with the return of road racing to the Co Meath circuit at Crossakeil. We all looked to the heavens as weather reports looked ominous, but don't believe everything you hear. Not a single drop of rain fell over the weekend and the sun even made a rare appearance. 

The track itself is 2.2 miles in length and was in superb condition, grip levels were high and track temperature was up. The Kells club did a fantastic job in its preparation and the weekend went off with out a hitch. All riders in all classes were given 5 sighting laps each to re-familiarize themselves with the jumps and sweeps before practice got on the way in earnest around lunch time on Saturday.

C250 & C350 Practice 

Qualifiers took to the track at 4.30. Over twenty riders formed on the grid including 4 newcomers to the circuit. An unfamiliar Suzuki T20 was spotted and after a quick word with the rider it turns out it was his first ever Irish road race, Steven Bedford was the pilot and he had traveled over from the UK the previous Thursday. The bike looked mint and Steven put in some very competitive times for his first visit, it was great to see him here and we hope he makes a habit of it and returns often.

On the track it was business as usual with Barry Davidson, Ed Manly and Ken Parkes setting the pace on the 350's while Brian Mateer, Richard Ford and Philip Shaw topped the 250 time sheets. Barry Davidson secured pole with a flyer on lap 5 setting a time of 1.34.646, over two seconds quicker than Ed in second place. When you sit back and think about it, Barry's pace is remarkable, lapping a 2.2 mile road race circuit at over 83 mph on what is essentially a 50 year old 350 cc Honda Twin engine bike. Another rider putting in very impressive lap times was circuit newcomer Mick Brady #41 riding a tab framed Honda, he finished the session fourth in class with a best of 1.40.9.

C1000 & C500 Practice 

An hour later it was the Seniors session with 500 cc and up to 1000cc taking to the circuit. Straight out of the blocks it was Richard Ford setting the pace on the Bob Jackson Norton with a best time of 1.30.952 set on lap 3, Ian Thompson was second quickest in class on the sweetest sounding Honda 500/4 with a returning Liam Crotty taking third on his BSA based Rickman Metisse. In the 500 class it was Ed's turn to top the list on the Tony Carton G50 when he posted a 1.31.2 on lap 6, Barry was 2nd fastest, just a second back with classic road racing's quiet man Freddie Stewart making up the top 3. It was nice to see Sean Henry back were he belongs and racing again after taking a couple of years out.

Sunday its Race Day

The Classics were race 4 and first out for us were the juniors when the 350 and 250 riders formed the grid at 11.30. Conditions were on side with a bone dry track and a little sunshine. Good crowds lined the hedges and the circuit was well bedded in. Barry was on pole and got away well with Manly slotting in behind him from the off, at the end of lap one it was Ed who appeared in the lead, there was no sign of Barry Davidson, it was Brian Mateer on the T20 leading the charge with Mick Brady, Ian Thompson, Ken Parkes, Sam Kinkead and Freddie Steward all vying for position. Barry had dropped a cylinder and had to suffer an unusual retirement. Things settled down and Ed had a clear lead, Mick Brady was lapping on the back wheel of Brian Mateer but overshot a road end and dropped out of contention. Brian was the leading 250 rider with Richard Ford and Philip Shaw chasing hard. Great racing was developing through out the field and Mark Johnson was starting to catch the leaders having started from the back wave. Gavan Duffy, Kevin Callan, Sean Henry and Sean Leonard were all lapping together and swapping places every lap, it was great to watch. At the chequered flag it was Eddie Manly, taking a clear win over Ian Thompson who crossed the line less than a second ahead of third place finisher Ken Parkes. The win in the 250 class was never in doubt with Brian Mateer doing the business, second place went to Richard Ford with Philip Shaw in third. A brilliant ride from Steven Bedford saw him home 4th in class and a great result for a circuit newcomer.

The Seniors race was on the grid at 2pm. It was familiar faces when they entered the front straight after lap one. Richard Ford had the lead but Manly and Davidson were not making it easy. All three were covered by 2 seconds. But the big Norton was on song and Richard was using the power flawlessly. Ian Thompson was in 4th, Freddie Stewart 5th with Sean Leonard making up the top 6. All were riding well and lapping fast. In the end the Norton had it. Ed Manly came home 2nd, less than a second back but winning the 500 race. Barry Davidson crossed the line third on the road but second in his class. Further back Ian Thompson secured 2nd place in the 1000 cc race while Trevor Stewart got third. The 500 class podium was completed when Freddie Stewart came home a fine third. 

Man of the meeting was Ed Manly taking the win in both events he entered, but classic fans should keep a special eye on Mick Brady who is stating to post some very quick lap times and its only a matter of time before he starts picking up silverware. 

Cover Photo courtesy Andy Quinn.