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Inquiry launched after Martin tragedy

An investigation into the death of Carrickfergus rider Sam Martin has begun after he was killed during Saturday’s Irish Superbike meeting at Kirkistown.

The meeting was abandoned with two races remaining after Martin crashed during the second Clubmans 600/1010cc race.

Thirty-seven-year-old Martin was in his debut season but was well known throughout the paddock as a race mechanic.

He tragically lost his life on the opening lap of his second race of the day following an incident at the hairpin bend when two motorcycles collided and he was thrown from his machine.

The tragedy overshadowed the achievements of Michael Dunlop, who had upset the applecart by powering his Robinson Concrete Honda to his first ever ISB victory breaking the track lap record for good measure.

More well known for his prowess in road racing, Dunlop started from pole position in the only ISB race to take place, but it was Michael Pearson who left the line like a scalded cat and soon had opened up a two-second gap on the pursuing pack.

Dunlop moved from fourth on the opening lap to second on lap four of 12, passing championship leader Marshall Neill and Denver Robb in the process.

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Once secure in second the 22-year old Ballymoney rider started to bridge the gap to Pearson with some spectacular riding, breaking the year old lap record of Alastair Seeley on lap seven setting a new

lap time of 55.776secs, a speed of 97.590mph to close to within a 10th of a second of the Ballygowan rider. On the penultimate lap Dunlop made his move at the chicane to take the lead and race to a 1.8sec victory over Pearson with Neill third and Robb fourth.

Dunlop said: “The bike was good today, I felt good and once I got through to second I could see I was able to close the gap to Pearson. I took the lead at the chicane where we maybe rubbed fairings and despite slower riders in the closing stages held on to win.

“The lap record is a bonus and shows that road racers can do well on the circuits as well.”

Dunlop had also been on pole for the two Supersport races, but had to settle for third in both giving best to Glenn Irwin, who had a race winning double and Jonny Buckley who pushed the young Carrick rider hard in both.

Last week’s Cookstown 100 hero Ryan Farquhar set a new class lap record for the Supertwins on his way to a winning double, while Nigel Percy and Chris English shared the 125GP honours.

Mark Hanna and Denver Robb had a win each in the 250GP races, as did Joseph Loughlin and Carl Phillips in the Supersport 400cc.

However what had been a scintillating day was put in perspective by the tragic death of Martin (left).

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