MICHAEL Dunlop rattled off a Superbike double at the Country Crest Killalane road races on Sunday on an emotional day at the final Irish national meeting of the season.
Following the tragic death of Castlecaulfield man Trevor Ferguson at the Manx Grand Prix, Ryan Farquhar and John Burrows completed a parade lap on Trevor’s 750cc Suzuki and Triumph 675 machines.
Ulster road racing titan Farquhar announced his retirement from the sport following the tragedy, with Burrows confirming over the weekend that he has also quit road racing.
The pair received a warm reception at Killalane as they said farewell to their fans and paid tribute to Mr Ferguson, who was an uncle of Farquhar’s and a good friend of Burrows.
The event was blighted by a series of red flag stoppages, which forced the organisers to reduce the races to four laps in an effort to complete the nine-race programme.
Dunlop won the Open race on the Hunts Motorcycles/McAdoo Honda Fireblade as he continued his superb run of form in the premier class.
He powered into the lead from the off and always looked the winner in the shortened race.
The 23-year-old made a break at the front and took the win by four seconds from Dublin’s Derek Sheils on the Amigos Honda, who finished half a second ahead of Brian McCormack.
Adrian Archibald was a further three seconds in arrears in fourth position, with Jamie Hamilton on the KMR Kawasaki and Michael Sweeney completing the top six.
Michael Pearson failed to start the race on the Team Hotties Yamaha R1.
Dunlop also cruised to victory in the feature Grand Final, which was held over six laps.
He was lying in third place in the early stages behind Sheils and McCormack before making his move and easing away from his challengers.
With Sheils forced out due to mechanical trouble, Pearson took up the reins in second position and was two seconds behind Dunlop at the flag, with Jamie Hamilton on the KMR Kawasaki taking a brilliant third – his first rostrum finish in the blue riband class at a national road race.
McCormack, Michael Sweeney and Davy Morgan completed the leading six.
“The big bike is working well and I’ve no complaints today,” said Dunlop.
“It wasn’t the same out there without Ryan Farquhar, because when you’re riding with someone like that it brings the best out in you. But Ryan has made his decision for the right reasons and more power to him, but I missed racing with him today.
“John Burrows has also retired now and John was a good rider too, but good luck to the both of them.”
William Dunlop clinched a treble in the 125cc, 250cc and 600cc classes.In the Supersport race, Dunlop was a comfortable winner on Wilson Craig’s Honda from younger brother Michael by almost six seconds, with Pearson claiming the final place on the podium ahead of Sheils and Sweeney.
William won the 250cc race on corrected time from Ed Manly and Davy Morgan to wrap up the Irish title, with Seamus Elliott fourth. Dunlop also took the honours in the 125cc event, crossing the line with 2.5 seconds in hand over Hamilton, with Sam Wilson from Ballymena.
Rising prospect Wilson won a thrilling Senior Support race from Bernard Day and Alan Kenny, with Mark Sheils taking the silverware in the Junior Support race, which was eventually held over three laps after two red flag incidents thwarted the initial race.
Hamilton won the Supertwins event by less than half a second from Sweeney, with Adrian Archibald third.
None of the incidents at Killalane were believed to be life-threatening.
Grand Final: 1 M Dunlop, 2 M Pearson, 3 J Hamilton, 4 B McCormack, 5 M Sweeney, 6 D Morgan.
Open race: 1 M Dunlop, 2 D Sheils, 3 B McCormack, 4 A Archibald, 5 J Hamilton, 6 M Sweeney.
Supersport: 1 W Dunlop, 2 M Dunlop, 3 M Pearson, 4 D Sheils, 5 M Sweeney, 6 D McGee.
250cc: 1 W Dunlop, 2 E Manly, 3 D Morgan, 4 S Elliott.
125cc/Moto450: 1 W Dunlop, 2 J Hamilton, 3 S Wilson, 4 W Reeve.
Senior Support: 1 S Wilson, 2 B Daly, 3 A Kenny, 4 R McLoughlin.