New date set for Enkalon Trophy feature race

Clerk of the Course Mark Sanlon (centre) with riders Ryan Rainey (left) and Malachi Mitchell-Thomas at Bishopscourt.
Clerk of the Course Mark Sanlon (centre) with riders Ryan Rainey (left) and Malachi Mitchell-Thomas at Bishopscourt.

The prestigious Enkalon Trophy race will go ahead later this season after Saturday’s big Easter showpiece at Bishopscourt was cancelled due to high winds and heavy rain.

The promoting Motor Cycle Road Racing Club of Ireland (MCRRCI) was left with no choice other than to abandon the 40th anniversary of Ireland’s oldest short circuit meeting following a delay of around two hours.

No racing took place at the Co. Down circuit on Saturday but Clerk of the Course Mark Sanlon said the famous Enkalon race, first won in 1977 by the great Ray McCullough, will be rescheduled for September 17, when it will be incorporated into the David Wood Memorial meeting at Bishopscourt.

“You can never legislate for what the weather is going to throw at you and it’s disappointing, but what can you do,” Sanlon said.

“On Friday, we had high tailwinds on the straight but it wasn’t so bad because we had dry conditions. Today, the winds were probably around 50mph and if you mix that with damp conditions it was totally unsafe to even turn a wheel.

“Hopefully we will run the Enkalon race at the David Wood meeting later this year and we had a club meeting before I left the circuit, so the plan is to go ahead with the 40th anniversary of the race in September.

“To be honest we didn’t have a big crowd today either because of the bad forecast and if someone had won the trophy there wouldn’t really have been too many there to appreciate it, so all we can do now is plan ahead for September.

“Perhaps Derek Sheils will have the chance after all to try and win the trophy for a record fourth time.

“Everyone was happy with the decision and although we had no racing today, things had been going well on Friday. We did have quite a few incidents, although fortunately they were all minor accidents,” added Sanlon.

“We did manage to run some good races but it wasn’t to be today.”

Dublin man Derek Sheils has won the Enkalon Trophy three times to tie with Alan Irwin, Johnny Rea, Rodney McCurdy and Cameron Donald as the most successful riders ever in the history of the race.

However, Sheils, who has signed to ride the Cookstown B.E. Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superbike this year for John Burrows’ team, was a late withdrawal from the event, opting to give the Easter weekend Irish short circuit meetings a miss following the death of his good friend Neil Lyons, who was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident during a rideout last Sunday.

Sheils, though, may now make history after all in September, when he will have another chance to bid for a fourth Enkalon triumph as a result of Saturday’s unforeseen circumstances.

Following practice on Friday, the opening Irish Championship races did take place, with David Haire holding off a determined charge from Nico Mawhinney to win the first Superbike race on his Ducati by only 0.145 seconds.

Nikki Coates finished third on the Kingsbury Kawasaki ahead of IFS Yamaha pair Robert English and Ryan Rainey, while the top six was completed by Gerard Kinghan.

William Dunlop opened his account with a victory on Friday in the Supersport race on the CD-IC Racing Yamaha, crossing the line two second clear of Coates with Jason Lynn in third.

The next race at Bishopscourt will be the second round of the Adelaide Masters Series on Saturday, April 16.