Cookstown 100: Mike Browne 'finally smiling' after maiden Irish Superbike win
Cork’s Mike Browne claimed a breakthrough victory in the Open Superbike race at the KDM Hire Cookstown 100 on Saturday.
Browne only made his roads debut in the class at Armoy on the Burrows Engineering/RK Racing Suzuki and was having his first outing on a 1000cc machine around the Orritor course, after concentrating solely on the 600 Yamaha at Cookstown last September.
The unassuming dairy farmer was embroiled in a race-long battle with McAdoo Kawasaki’s Adam McLean, who led for seven of the eight laps.
Pole man Michael Sweeney – battered and bruised after a big crash in the Supersport race – kept the leaders in his sights on his MJR BMW until half-distance, when he began to slip backwards.
That left McLean and Browne to fight it out for the victory and as the race reached a climax, slower riders entered the equation.
Browne took full advantage, seizing his opportunity at the start of the last lap as he passed McLean on the inside into Gortin corner.
He pushed hard on the final 2.1-miles to secure a dream win for John Burrows’ team at their home meeting by 1.2s from McLean, with a brave Sweeney completing the podium, 6.6s back.
Magherafelt’s Paul Jordan, making his competitive debut in the Superbike class for Isle of Man-based PreZ Racing team on a Yamaha R1, was over 10 seconds further back in fourth.
Ballymoney’s Darryl Tweed (McAdoo Kawasaki) and Banbridge native Shaun Anderson (NW Racing BMW) rounded out the top six.
A delighted Browne joked: “I’m finally smiling after Cookstown!
“It took a long time to get a smile out of me but it was a brilliant day to finish up the year and I couldn’t ask for anything better at the team’s home race.
“During the race I was comfortable sitting behind Adam and there were a few places where I thought I was a bit stronger.
“I showed him my wheel maybe once or twice and then on the last lap I knew we were coming on to backmarkers, so I knew I had to be as close as I could or I could lose my chance if he got through and I didn’t,” he added.
“On the last lap I made my move at the end of the start and finish straight and just got past him on the inside.
“I didn’t let up on the last lap either and kept her at it because I was wary of him coming back at me.
“It’s my first win on the big bike and only my second race in the class after Armoy. I know that (Derek) Sheils and (Derek) McGee weren’t racing, but it was still a good race and a good battle. We were still doing good times and I was quite happy.”
Browne was celebrating a double on Saturday after he cleared off to win the Moto3 race on the Joey’s Bar Honda by 37.5s from Dungannon stalwart Nigel Moore, with Melissa Kennedy from Enniskillen sealing the final rostrum spot.
It was a fitting result in the final road race for Gary Dunlop’s Ballymoney-based team after six seasons in the Moto3/125GP class.