Tandragee 100: Controversy rages over Superbike opener

Ryan Farquhar on  the IEG BMW at the Tandragee 100 on Saturday.
Ryan Farquhar on the IEG BMW at the Tandragee 100 on Saturday.
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Tandragee Open Superbike race winner Ryan Farquhar says the controversy surrounding the result on Saturday soured a terrific day’s racing in north Armagh.

The 40-year-old was declared the winner of the race after Mar-Train Racing’s Dan Kneen and Derek Sheils (Cookstown B.E. Racing Suzuki) were penalised by 60 seconds when they were deemed to have jumped the start.

The race was initially red-flagged due to a false start and re-started over five laps, when Kneen and Sheils were again accused of jumping the gun.

Isle of Man rider Kneen crossed the line in first place almost five seconds ahead of Dubliner Sheils, with Farquhar completing the rostrum in third.

However, the Dungannon rider was promoted to first position after submitting a protest, with William Dunlop (MSS Kawasaki) and newcomer Malachi Mitchell-Thomas (Cookstown B.E. Racing Suzuki) filling the podium in the revised standings after Kneen and Sheils were shunted down the order to 10th and 11th respectively as a result of their one-minute penalties.

A counter-appeal has been launched against the decision, with a statement issued on Saturday night by the Mar-Train Racing team saying: “A subsequent protest regarding a suggested jump start by Kneen and Sheils has been appealed due to lack of any evidence and will be reviewed by the governing body [MCUI] in due course.”

Farquhar, who won the Supertwin race on Saturday after an all-the-way battle with Mitchell-Thomas in a repeat of their Mid Antrim 150 tussle, said: “The race was red-flagged the first time because of a jump start so the riders had another chance at getting it right but the same riders did it again in the restart.

“Nothing was being done about it and it was bad enough doing it once and getting away with it, but to do it twice…

“I knew with the amount of cameras that were around the footage would prove what happened. It was nothing to do with getting a win because to me I never won the race, I finished third, but I felt the riders who jumped the start should have been penalised because rules are rules and it left a bad taste in the mouth.”

Mar-Train Racing team boss Tim Martin praised Manxman Kneen for his performances but said the controversy in the Open Superbike race had been frustrating.

“The controversy after the open was frustrating. I have watched the video and there is no evidence to substantiate the protest so hopefully the powers that be make the right decision in the end,” Martin said.

“You work hard all winter to try and hit the ground running so when it happens it is especially satisfying,” he added. “All credit goes to the guys in my team and Yamaha UK for the progress with the bikes.”

The action switches to the KDM Hire Cookstown 100 next weekend, where Kneen is among the top names entries.