Mark McLernon with upper hand in Ulster and British championships

Mark McLernon hitting the heights.
Mark McLernon hitting the heights.
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Mark McLernon stretched his lead in the ATVs Only Premier Ulster Quad Championship to 57 points over Moira’s Dean Dillon after another commanding performance at Laurel Bank for round four of the series.

The 23-year-old Hillsborough rider kept his 100 per cent winning record on home soil as he comfortably won all three races - before making the long journey to round six of the British at Gusses Gorse, where he took the overall prize thanks to a win and two second places.

This has extended his lead in the series to 45 points with only two rounds left.

After qualifying fastest at Laurel Bank, McLernon took the hole shot and led race one from start to finish with over eight seconds to spare over Justin Reid at the chequered flag, with David Cowan third ahead of Dean Dillon.

In his second race, he stretched his winning advantage to over 15 seconds by the finish with, once again, Comber rider Reid second ahead of Dillon and Cowan.

With McLernon out in front, 17-year-old Dillon, on the Walsh CRF450R, got within five seconds of the man of the moment by the finish, with Cowan a further four-and-a-half seconds back in third.

Reid was a distant fourth after stalling the Justin Racing CAN-AM 450 on the last lap while holding third.

“What can I say, everything is going brilliantly well this season,” said McLernon. “I have already won the Irish, I’m leading both the Ulster and the British, I can’t complain.

“It was just another perfect day - another overall at Gusses Gorse in the British completed a great weekend.

“A big thanks, once again, to all the support from Quadbikes R Us and Rea Engineering.”

Reid added: “I was happy enough with my day, second overall wasn’t too bad considering I finished second in the opening two races before I stalled the bike on the last lap of the final race to finish fourth.”

For third-place rider Dean Dillon it was a trying day.

“I had a small crash in qualifying and ended up fifth fastest then, in race one, I was running third when I spun the bike into a post and finished fourth,” he said. “In the second race I made a much better start and ran third the whole race then in the last one I got the hole shot before Mark (McLernon) passed me and I ran second to the flag.

“I have to say I struggled with the track all day so third overall will do.”

Neil Campbell and stand-in passenger Andy McKibben won all three races in the Ballymac Hotel Sidecar class from Emma Moulds and Niki Adair - with Jake Wilson and Andrew Rowan completing the overall rostrum.

“Myself and Andy went out looking three finishes but we ended up with three wins which really helped with extending the Ulster Championship lead,” said Campbell. “Andy done an excellent job standing in at such late notice.”

Second-place Moulds said: “It was one of those tracks today where the conditions levelled out the field and we got closer to Neil and Andy at the front in the opening race.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t get past Jake and Andrew in the last race as the track was so rough and very much one line meaning we had to settle for third.

“We lost ground in the championship but there are plenty of rounds left.”

Lisburn’s Jack Young had no luck in the Clubman Quads.

After winning the opening race he was leading race two when a rope pulled across the track by another rider wrapped around the axel of his machine as he led the race, forcing the teenager to cross the line 13th.

He went on to win the final race but lost the overall to Kyle Orr. Young was third overall behind Ruairi McCloskey.

Mark Mulholland won the Junior 200/250 Quad class while Travis Toye, son of former champion Rickie, dominated the 80/100 class with three comfortable runs.

Conor Bradley won the opening 50cc Quad race from Harrison Orr but, in race two, he had a DNF after the chain came off his bike, gifting eventual overall winner Adam Hollywood the victory.

Despite winning race three, Bradley had to settle for fourth overall.

The first piece of the Motocross of Nations Team Ireland jigsaw was slotted into place at the weekend when Ballyclare rider Martin Barr was announced as the MX2 member of the 2019 squad that will race in the Netherlands on September 28/29. 

It will be Barr’s 15th consecutive MXON at the biggest motocross meeting of the season.

The Crescent Yamaha rider had a great run at the recent Maxxis British Championship meeting at Desertmartin - taking third in the opening race despite the lack of a back brake from halfway through the race, followed by fourth in race two giving the popular local man fourth overall.

He was disappointed at not making the rostrum at his home event but getting the nod for the ‘Nations’ team lifted the mood for Barr.

“It’s nice to know that I’m in the team for the ‘Nations’ and, all being well, it will be my 15th consecutive time at the event representing Team Ireland,” he said. “I never take it for granted that I will be picked for the team so for Philip to still reckon I’m good enough for the place is an extra bonus every season.

“I may be the oldest at 31 but still to be picked on merit is pretty special.

“I rode the track in Holland last year when I was racing at the European Championships and being a man-made track, it is certainly different from anywhere else I have ridden in the world so it will be nice to have a heads-up going into the event.

“My season so far has gone fairly well and I still lead the MX Nationals by three points and although I am 10 behind in the Masters it’s not over until it’s over.

“I lost a bit of ground in the Maxxis after Desertmartin but I’ll keep working.”