Richard Bird took an impressive hat trick of race wins to vault himself back into contention for the Ulster MX1 championship at Seaforde motocross park.
Under clear blue skies the large crowd witnessed some great racing all day long on the baked hard hillside track.
The Suitor brothers racing KTM rider Bird hounded race one leader, Bannside Pallets Suzuki’s Gary Gibson, for the entire moto before making the pass with two laps to go. Gibson had retaliated on the initial couple of attempts but once Bird made it stick he opened up the gap just enough so Gibson couldn’t make a last gasp attempt for the lead.
In race two Bird lead from start to finish. Both Gibson and JAR Honda’s Wayne Garrett went down on lap one to rule themselves out of the running and the fight for second went on between Robert Hamilton and John Meara, with Hamilton getting the verdict. Gibson would climb from last to sixth.
Race three and it was the G&G Ross KTM two stroke of Hamilton that got into the lead with Bird slotting into second and Gibson third. Bird slowly but surely inched his way up to the rear wheel of Hamilton and made an aggressive move that left Hamilton on the deck hard with only a couple of laps to go!
Bird would go on to win as Hamilton salvaged an angry fourth, barely holding off John Meara who pipped an off form Wayne Garrett for fifth on the last lap. Hamilton’s crash allowed Tommy Merton on the Watt Kawasaki into third with Gibson inheriting second.
Former Irish champion and British championship competitor Philip McCullough is now training Bird and the improvements are starting to show. Always consistent in the past, the former Ulster championship has added some extra aggression to his riding lately, he doesn’t just want to be consistent now – he wants to be consistently first.
“It was a perfect day,” said a delighted Bird. “It didn’t start off to good with fourth in practice, but race one I had a good start and a good battle with Gary (Gibson) and I was able to get by him. In the second race I just got away and led from start to finish – so that on was handy! In the last race I was in behind Robert and it was just so hard to get by. I went for a gutsy one on the inside and we came together and unfortunately he went down. But that’s racing, I’m here to win and that’s what I want to do. “
In MX2 it was the battle of the teenagers.
British MXY2 competitor Glenn McCormick got away with the 450s in race one and hung onto them as long as he could to take the win from TMC Honda’s rising star Jason Meara who was still searching for a good start.
In race two Meara and McCormick put on a fantastic show for the bumper crowd with both riders not giving an inch and rubbing plastic and elbows on more than one occasion. Meara thought he had secured the win after forcing his way past leader McCormick but with two turns to go a determined McCormick dived up the inside to retake the lead and ultimately the race win. It left Meara fuming with himself for letting the win slip away so close to the finish.
Race three was shaping up to be another battle as McCormick led from Meara but McCormick went down and gave Meara the lead with McCormick just not able to make up the ground to get back on terms. But two wins and a second were good enough to ensure the Agnew Recovery KTM rider McCormick came away with the championship lead.
McCormick said: “It was a good day, I am happy enough. I made a mistake there in the last one but that’s racing. It was a good battle with Jason but I was able to make the pass in race two in the last couple of corners and get the win – that’s what matters. Jason and I are pushing each other on and we are getting there (running with the top 450s).”
Article and picture by Jonathan McCready