Derek Sheils claimed an excellent brace of runner-up finishes in the Superbike class at the Armoy Road Races to seal the Ulster Superbike Championship, while Tom Weeden returned to the team and earned two solid top-ten finishes.

Derek went into the event on the back of a red-hot run of seven Irish National Superbike wins in a row on the Burrows Engineering/RK Racing Suzuki and underlined his form by qualifying on pole.

In the Open Superbike race, Derek made a strong start and was contesting the lead in the early stages before the returning Michael Dunlop came through to take over at the front. Dunlop was able to make a break and Derek eventually settled for the runner-up spot, coming home eight seconds ahead of Michael Sweeney in third.

The team made some set-up changes to the GSX-R1000 prior to the feature ‘Race of Legends’ Superbike event, thanks to the invaluable input of Burrows Racing technician Mark Arnott.

The race was red-flagged following a non-serious incident when Derek was disputing the lead with Derek McGee and Michael Dunlop. In the shortened five-lap race, Dunlop made a fast start and passed McGee for the lead on the opening lap. He was able to make a break for it as Derek attempted to find a way past McGee. By the time he did manage to move into second place, Dunlop had opened an unassailable gap of around three seconds, but Derek showed his pace by setting the fastest lap of the event at 105.628mph to reduce the deficit to 2.6 seconds at the finish.

Kent’s Tom Weeden, who was back in action for the first time since the Isle of Man TT, was making his second appearance at Armoy. Tom began the weekend with a solid 10th place in Friday evening’s Supersport race and repeated the result in the Supersport race on Saturday on the Michelin-shod Burrows Engineering/RK Racing Yamaha. He also finished 14th and 13th in the Open and Race of Legends races respectively on the Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Derek will be back in action this weekend at the Munster 100 Road Races in County Cork (August 3-4), while Tom will return for the Ulster Grand Prix (August 5-10).

Team Principal – John Burrows:
“Derek rode strongly once again and showed the form he is in at present with two runner-up finishes. He seemed to have more pace than Derek McGee and was only beaten by Michael Dunlop, who has an excellent record at his home race. In the ‘Race of Legends’ Derek wasn’t able to get past McGee as quickly as he would have liked and Michael opened a gap after putting in a couple of fast laps. By the time Derek got through to second, there was no chance of reeling Michael in, but he set the fastest lap of the day once he had clear road ahead of him and showed he had good pace. If Derek had managed to get past a bit earlier then maybe he could have given Michael a race, but all credit to Michael because he was riding injured and he’s now won the big race eight times in a row.

“Derek also finished second in the first Superbike race but he wasn’t completely comfortable on the bike and we made some changes for the feature race. I’ve got to say a big thank you to Mark Arnott for that because Mark came on the phone and steered us in the right direction even though he was on his holidays in Spain. Derek also wrapped up the Ulster Superbike Championship for the team and we’re pleased to have that title back after Derek missed a few races last year.

“I was happy with Tom’s performance on Saturday and he finished tenth in both Supersport races, plus his times were relatively good. He was really pleased with the Michelin tyres, which were working very well. He’s looking forward to the Ulster Grand Prix now which will be his next race for us.”

Derek Sheils:
“I was a bit frustrated in the ‘Race of Legends’ race because I couldn’t get past Derek McGee until it was too late, which allowed Michael Dunlop to establish a bit of a gap. Derek was braking as late as I was into the hairpin in the village, which ruled out any passing opportunities there without running wide. It’s one of the main passing areas on the track, so that’s what made things difficult. I think Michael might have had a bit of an edge on power over me and probably Derek as well, because they were able to drive past me on the run over the start and finish line. When I got past Derek I set the fastest lap overall on the last lap and I wasn’t over-pushing things because I knew I wasn’t going to catch Michael, although I made a bit of ground on him.

“I think I was about a second-and-a-half quicker per lap once I got past McGee, but that’s how it goes and I’m happy enough with two podiums. We made a change for the final race with the suspension and it worked, so it’s just unfortunate that I wasn’t able to run my pace until it was too late. In the Open race, I and Derek were maybe holding each other up a bit and at one point he had a bit of a moment and I had to shut the throttle so that probably let Michael get away again. In saying that, I don’t think I had the pace in that race anyway to trouble him because we weren’t just completely happy with the handling of the bike.”

Tom Weeden:
“It was my second time at Armoy but with the race being rained off last year I hadn’t done that many laps overall. I was feeling a little rusty because it was my first time back on the bikes since the TT, so I was happy enough with a couple of top-ten finishes on the 600 Yamaha.  I decided to ride the Yamaha in the Superbike free practice session on Friday because that was the bike I’d be riding first in Saturday’s race, so we were maybe lacking some laps on the Suzuki GSX-R1000. But overall I was satisfied with how things went. The Ulster Grand Prix is my next race and I’m really looking forward to racing again at Dundrod because the fast and flowing nature of the course suits my style.”

Practice for the Munster 100 Road Races takes place on Saturday with roads closed from 10am-5pm with racing on Sunday, when roads are again closed from 10am-5-pm.

Pictures courtesy of Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press (Derek Sheils) and Baylon McCaughey (Tom Weeden).

Posted by Press Release
for Wemoto News on 30 July 2019 in Racing

Edited By: Daisy Cordell



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