For May Bank holiday week-end I was celebrating my birthday. And nothing better than going to a road race to celebrate it. 🙂
So we had taken our Friday off, and that week-end was Cookstown 100 road race, in Northern Ireland, so there we went.
We left on Friday morning, as early as possible, after searching all the house for our map of Ireland which came with us everywhere since 2013… without success. It just disappeared. Nothing, so as we still have the Tom Tom, it will do for the week-end.
After a few hours of car driving on straight, boring but quite practical roads, we arrived in Moy where we had booked a b&b (having decided to go 1 month before, it’s the nearest we found). We had our sandwiches and left our luggage and went to Cookstown.
For once I hadn’t checked where the circuit was, and it resulted that it is not in Cookstown, but in Orritor, a few miles away. But we were lucky as we saw a panel indicating “Orritor circuit road closed for racing”, so I put Orritor in our TomTom and followed it.
When we arrived the road was already closed, and there was no car park at that entrance (car park is usually a field graciously let by some farmer around during the racing week-end), so we turned back and parked along the road with the other cars, and walked back to the circuit.
When we arrived with the car they were running Classics practice, and by the time we walked back they had started with 600/Supersport practice. We arrived through the end of the start/finish straight line, and the riders arrived at an incredible speed there, thrilling.
We could walk up to the paddock through a protected path on the outside of the circuit. We arrived there after the end of 600 practice. The paddock was divided in 2, a small part on the outside of the circuit, where you could find the village’s shop (where we bought the program), and most important: the pub 😉 . The other part of the paddock was on the inside of the circuit.
Between 2 practices, we crossed the circuit to the grandstand in front of the pub, and from there we watched the rest of practice time and the first 2 races that were ran late afternoon.
I took pictures from the fence, down the grandstand, as from the grandstand the action was too far away for my lens.
Derek Mc Gee
Malachi Mitchell-Thomas D.E.P. 🙁
When they were going to start the second race, it was already getting late, and the temperature was lower. But after the 2 warm-up laps, they had to delay the race UNTIL A CLOUD WOULD GET IN FRONT OF THE SUN, as the sun was too low and it was making it dangerous on a back part of the circuit. Unbelievable! 😉 The race finally started but was red flagged on the first lap after a rider high sided on the corner in front of the pub. He was unhurt but the race was finally cancelled and postponed to the next day.
After the road opened, we went to the pub to have an early dinner. There were having dinner the whole Mar-Train team with their rider Dan Keen, and at another table, Maria Costello. That’s not every day you can say you had dinner with those people (around! 😉 ).
After dinner and with the village now quite quiet, we had a walk around the paddock, to see if we could find Andy Farrell’s team. Everybody was already in their vans and motorhomes, and we couldn’t figure out where they were, but they saw us and invited us for a chat. We had a nice and funny moment there, as the first time, a pleasure to talk to Andy and his team again. We left early as the car would still be parked on the roadside and would probably be on its own now. Though we first bought some nice Andy’s team tee-shirts. Most road racers have few means to run their season, and any kind of help is much welcome.
We went back to the car, and it was now on its own, and on top of a hill… which could be quite dangerous at dusk/night (of course we didn’t realise it when we parked it with all the other cars around).
After a good night sleep at the b&b, we woke up for Irish breakfast, with another biker from Wales, Max, who also came for the races, and we went to the circuit.
Now the circuit was indicated in Cookstown so we followed the signs and arrived through another road. The friendly people of the organisation indicated where to park (it was in a farm) and also 2 spots to watch the races.
Though we came back to the grandstand of the previous day, which was better to take pics. We were silly enough to leave our fold-away chairs in the car, and of course, on our way to the grandstand, it started raining a little, just enough to get the grandstand wet… we are still quite newcomers for road racing spectators basic outfit LOL. Though our grandstand neighbour, a nice man, lent us a big plastic bag to sit on 🙂 .
The day started with a short blessing, thanking God and asking for his protection to all people taking part. It was quite unusual for us, but it was very nice and natural. Then the racing day started.
For the first race the road was still a little bit damp. It was the 600 Invitation that doesn’t count for Championship. I spent my day between the grandstand watching the races, and down at the fence, taking pictures, when someone would leave some spare room during some of the races.
I realised that I am not able to take pics and follow the race at once. I enjoy a lot taking pics, but then I miss the race action. And also I enjoy so much watching the races… It’s so thrilling. So the ideal would be to take pics during practice and just enjoy the races. Though sometimes I just can’t help taking the camera out 😉 .
The 125/Moto3 race was so good to watch, Paul Jordan was on fire. Incredible the pace at which he would go through that bend. And I almost had a heart attack during the Superbike race. The top riders would just fly through that bend, so close to the protection hedge and wheeling out of the bend, just thrilling. I tried to take some video, but it just doesn’t reflect the speed and the action. Still have to work my video skills also lol.
On the fifth lap I was asking how many laps are left because it was just too much action for me 😀 . Juan told me I was shouting, and our neighbour might have thought I was mad or something LOL.
I spent the Supertwins race taking pics at the fence, so I didn’t follow too much of the action, but I just love so much the heavenly sound of the twins 🙂 .
4 women riders were taking part in Cookstown 100 races: Melissa Kennedy in 125/Moto3, Yvonne Montgomery inSupport with a GSXR600 and in 400cc with a Kawa, Maria Costello in Supertwins and Veronika Hancocyova (from Czech Republic) with a Supertwin in Supertwin and Support.
The day went on fast, with an accident in our bent, with the rider injured but no broken bones according to the following day updates. Wishing him a prompt and full recovery.
Before Classics race we started to come back to the car. We had to run a little between races, but that way we could try the other 2 grandstands. We watched the 400cc race from the last grandstand before the car park, it’s incredible how fast can go those small (and not too young) machines!
We spent two incredible days, with the best organisation! Many thanks to the Club, the riders for such a thrilling performance, and to the medical team for taking care of them. We will be back for sure!
A very happy birthday at the races!