One point away on Saturday and two points away on Sunday! That was how frustratingly close TeamIrelandgot to qualifying for the A final.
The B final was especially nerve wrecking. After terrible starts outside the top 15 it looked like TeamIreland’s aspirations of qualifying was over especially when all the rival countries had their best riders at the front of the pack. But Barr and Irwin don’t give up so easily! They powered through the field in tandem with Barr leading the way for the first half of the race, before Irwin led the charge through the second half.
In the end Irwin and Barr needed just one more lap to get byCanada’s Cole Thompson and they would have made the main. But it wasn’t to be.
However all three riders could hold their head up high with their performances over the weekend.
Graeme Irwin was ninth quickest in practice and after a bad start in his Saturday heat race battled Nicolletti and Cody Cooper for 12th. In the B final Irwin was one fire but again a bad start meant he had to come from the mid pack otherwise a top three would have been on the cards.
Martin Barr had a bad start in his heat and then went down while inside the top twenty. Barr struggled to get his flow after the crash but found it towards the end of the moto and caught a gaggle of riders but ran out of time. Barr stepped it up again for the B final and rode superb catching and passing AMA top fifteen regular Alex Martin who was riding the super fast Dixon Yamaha. Alex admitted afterwards he was surprised at the speed of Barr!
Gary Gibson got a dream start in the MX1 heat in the top five but then crashed half way round the first lap and was dead last. Gibson put in a good ride to come back to 27th and was solid again in the B final.
But ultimatelyIrelandjust came up short on both Saturday and Sunday and will now have to look forward to Latvia and hopefully get some better starts to show the world their speed.
Team Ireland’s thoughts…
Martin Barr: It is disappointing to not make the A final but personally I felt I rode really good especially being out there on the 250f. I was really disappointed with my heat race yesterday getting caught up in that pile up and a silly crash. Graeme rode really good andGary did well. It is never easy coming into such a big event but for sure he has learnt a lot. Me and Graeme are still learning too. We pulled together as a team and gave it our best shot in the B final, we can’t do much more than that. I want to thank the whole team and the Irish fans for coming over. The B final was a brilliant atmosphere the whole way round the track.
Gary Gibson: it was overwhelming to say the least. I couldn’t wait to get out there. I didn’t get many nerves at all I was quite surprised, I felt at home. I’m just disappointed I didn’t get the results to get the boys into the final. Martin and Graeme rode outstanding. I loved the track, loved the ruts and loved the big jumps – I felt at home on it.
Graeme Irwin: I didn’t get the best of start for a 450,I got in behind Martin and he was going really good. I didn’t want to be too aggressive to try to get by him and I tried to scrub a jump and jumped off the side. It is a bit of bummer because maybe that mistake cost us qualifying. I got back on the track and caught all the guys but I am a bit gutted to be honest. All weekend I have been riding quite good, I was only two seconds slower than Barcia in the race and 0.8 off him in qualifying. It shows we are going fast . But I feel I could have run a lot higher up in the B final if I had got a better start.
Laurence Spence: There was some tough opposition in that B final with some good GP riders. But they rode well and were just a couple of positions away. I knew they would come through ok it was just unfortunate that they all got bad starts. They had the speed it was just a few mistakes. I am just disappointed for the boys.
Report by Jonathan McCready
Picture by Elliot Spencer