Fermanagh’s Lee Johnston added another major piece of silverware to his trophy cabinet this season after winning the Steve Henshaw International Gold Cup for the first time yesterday at Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough.
In wet conditions around the 2.4-mile, Ashcourt Racing rider Johnston led all the way in the eight-lap feature race as he became the third rider from Northern Ireland to win the trophy.
Dungannon’s Ryan Farquhar won the Gold Cup race in 2011 while Michael Dunlop added his name to the roll of honour in 2013.
Johnston, riding his Yamaha R6, shot into the lead from pole position and controlled the race from the front.
Mike Norbury held station in second place throughout on his 600cc Honda but he was unable to land a blow on Johnston, who crossed the line to take the chequered flag by almost three seconds.
David Jackson finished over half-a-minute behind in third place on his Kawasaki ahead of Brad Vicars (Honda) and Joey Thompson (Triumph).
The Gold Cup race was limited to Supersport machinery, while the Superbike races were restricted to Classic Superbike machinery only as part of safety measures introduced this year.
Johnston’s victory yesterday comes at the end of an excellent season for the 30-year-old, who began the international road racing campaign with victory in the first Supersport race at the North West 200 in May.
He followed that up with his maiden win at the Isle of Man TT in the same class, with Johnston emerging victorious in the opening Supersport TT, which was cut short after two laps as poor weather began to close in.
Johnston also won the Supersport A race on Saturday by 1.6 seconds from Norbury, while event newcomer Paul Jordan from Magherafelt finished on the rostrum in third position on his Yamaha in the Supersport B race. Norbury won the second Supersport A race yesterday by 6.6 seconds from Vicars.
Saturday’s Classic Superbike race was won by David Bell on a Yamaha 0W01, with Johnston taking second place on a Honda RC45, finishing 12.5 seconds in arrears.
Bell completed a brace in the class yesterday, beating Barry Furber (750 Suzuki) by 5.3 seconds.
Yesterday’s action was delayed due to rain and mist before the race programme finally got underway.
Veteran Ian Lougher did the double in the Lightweight class on the ILR/Coverdale Paton.
Racing only resumed at Oliver’s Mount in July with the Barry Sheene Classic meeting after the Gold Cup was abandoned in September 2017, when spectators were injured in two separate incidents.
Afterwards, the Auto Cycle Union (ACU) refused to grant a Race Licence to the previous organisers – the Auto 66 Club – to run races in 2018.
A new organisational team took over with Eddie Roberts and Mick Grant at the helm and after extensive safety upgrades was carried out, with more than £100,000 spent, the Two Four Three Racing Association in partnership with GrantRoberts Ltd received the green light from the ACU to run the Barry Sheene and Gold Cup races this year.