Richie Ryan And Jason Lynn Lift Masters Championship Titles
The final event of the longest ever Masters Superbike Championship season, took place last weekend on the Mondello Park International Track where Richie Ryan clinched his first Championship win, on his debut season in the Superbike Class, while Jason Lynn was also a first time winner as he lifted the Masters Supersport title. Having come close to championship glory in the Supersport class on a number of occasions, Ryan moved up to Superbike this season with a brand new Mobil 1 backed Yamaha R1. Straight away the Kilkenny man was in contention, taking three podiums from his first three races. By mid season the Yamaha was really into its stride and five wins on the trot between rounds seven and eleven put the newcomer in the driving seat.
As the season progressed Charles Stuart, on his Parker Car Transport Yamaha, emerged as Ryan's closest challenger and following a change of tyre manufacturer he began to get the upper hand and close the gap to the championship leader. Going into the final weekend Stuart had a mathematical chance of winning the title, but Ryan knew that three steady race finishes would be enough to keep his rival at bay. While Stuart pushed hard and put in his strongest performance of the season, Ryan picked up three fifth place finishes and the points he needed to become the 2017 Masters Superbike Champion. In the Superbike Cup, Andrew Murphy battled all weekend with class newcomer James Kelly and a single win, along with two second places, was enough to give him the class title ahead of Raymond O'Neill and Michael Gillan. The season long Supersport battle, between the Walter Bell Suzuki of Jason Lynn and Ross Patterson's Kingsbury Packaging Kawasaki, was expected to go all the way to the final race but engine problems for Patterson intervened to make Lynn's journey to the title a little easier. The problems began for Patterson in race one. Having blown his engine at a previous event, the replacement unit proved to be down on power and he was unable to finish any higher than fifth, while Lynn was involved in a battle for the lead with Patterson's team mate Aaron Clifford. Clifford did his best to assist his colleague by taking the lead at the last corner of the last lap but he was beaten on the run to the line by less than a tenth of a second.
Race two produced the race of the season with a three way lead battle between Lynn, Kevin Keyes and Eunan McGlinchey. The trio swapped places throughout while pulling away from their pursuers, which once again included Patterson. Following a very strong final lap McGlinchey crossed the line first to take his maiden outright race win and only the second ever by a 'Cup' rider. Lynn came home third, which was enough to finally clinch the championship, while Patterson took another fifth place. With the championship secured Lynn really went for it in the last race to finish the season on a high. Following a stoppage, the race was re-run as a short four lap dash and Lynn made short work of battling past Keyes and then McGlinchey to take his eighth win of the season. Patterson once again finished fifth to consolidate second in the final championship standings, while a strong race by Aaron Clifford helped him hold on to third in the points ahead of McGlinchey, who had already wrapped up the Supersport Cup championship prior to the final event of the season. Luke O'Higgins finished second in the Cup championship while Graham Whitmore finished third, despite his race stopping accident in the final encounter.
The Principal Insurance Pre-Injection Championship was set up for a weekend-long battle between series leader Darryl Sharkey and his challenger Joe Grant, until an engine blow up in qualifying put an end to Grant's chances. Such is the camaraderie in the Pre-Injection class that Sharkey was gutted for his rival and offered to help any way he could to get Joe back on track, but while Grant made it out for race one, a series of additional issues with the replacement engine led to three non-finishes. With Grant not a factor Sharkey flew to three race wins and the championship, as well as the cash prizes on offer by Principal Insurance for the winner of race three and fastest lap of the weekend. Despite not scoring any points Grant held on to second in the standings while two second places helped Ian Prendergast overtake Enda Delaney for third. The 2017 Masters Superbike Championship may be over for 2017 but the organisers are already working on some new features for next year and looking forward to another season of Ireland's top short circuit Motorcycle Racing championship.