Saturday’s Sunflower Trophy meeting at Bishopscourt organised by the Hillsborough Club produced a day of record-breaking action with Michael Laverty completing a memorable hat-trick of wins in the two Irish Superbike races and the feature Sunflower Trophy race.
This was the third time he has achieved a treble at this end of season show piece and a record sixth time he has lifted the Sunflower Trophy in the past nine years.
Laverty said afterwards: “This has been a tremendous year for both myself and the Relentless Suzuki by TAS team.
“It is always great to come home and put on a show for the huge turnout of local fans, although I suppose that produces its own kind of pressure.
“The Sunflower meeting has always been kind to me and it’s good to get my name back on the Sunflower Trophy after missing out for a couple of years. It means a lot to me.
“In the race Ian Lowry pushed me hard and at one stage he got in front, but I hit back immediately and then put my head down to pull a race-winning gap.
“It’s nice to end the season on a high after losing out on the BSB championship when I was in contention right up to the last round.”
The Sunflower race was restarted over ten laps after Ben Wilson crashed out of seventh position on the first start and was taken to hospital with a leg injury.
On the restart Laverty made the best start from pole position with Marshall Neill, Alastair Seeley, Lowry and John Laverty right on his back wheel.
By half distance it was a two-horse race with Lowry now the challenger, having set a new track lap record on lap three, beating the 2006 record held by Jonathan Rea, and moving onto Laverty’s back wheel as the rest dropped off the hot pace set by the two front-runners.
Four laps from the end Lowry made his move to the front, but Laverty was having none of it and regained the lead immediately, winning the race by two and a half seconds from defending champion Lowry.
Neill held onto third despite tyre problems with John Laverty, Seeley and the circuit newcomer Barry Burrell completing the top six.
Lowry said after the race: “Michael and I touched about three laps from home and I lost grip from my front wheel.
“Maybe the impact spun the tyre on the rim which meant I had to ease my pace in the last couple of laps.
“The lap record is a bonus.”
Laverty dominated both Irish Superbike races, leading all the way in both three and a half seconds ahead of Neill and Lowry in the first and then easing to a seven second victory over Lowry and Seeley in race two, which saw Neill and John Laverty crash out on the opening lap, Neill suffering a suspected broken toe.
Earlier Neill, declared man-of-the-meeting riding Wilson Craig’s Hondas, won both keenly contested Supersport 600cc races.
And he broke the class lap record on his way to beating new British champion Sam Lowes by a tenth of a second in race one with Ben Wilson a close third.
Then he out-manoeuvered Lowe’s Parkalgar Honda team mate for the day James Ellison in race two to win by less than a second after a feisty no holds barred encounter, with Relentless Suzuki by TAS recruit for the day James Westmoreland third.
Andy Reid was a new name on everyone’s lips after the 16-year-old Newtownabbey schoolboy raced to two emphatic 125GP race wins on his Aztec machine.
It was all the more impressive when you consider this was only Reid’s second appearance on home soil; the former Ulster schoolboy motocross champion having spent his tarmac career racing on the mainland.
Other double winners on a memorable day’s racing were Ryan Farquhar, who raced to victory in both Supertwin races, and Mark Hanna who did the double in the 250GP class
Meanwhle ex-world champions the Birchall brothers who got the better of another ex-world champion Tim Reeves in the sidecars.
Carl Phillips and Joseph Loughlin shared the Supersport 400cc race wins at an event, which was a tremendous advert for local motorcycle racing.
Sunflower Trophy Race – 1st M Laverty (New Track Record - 1m 06.323s - 99.006mph), 2nd I Lowry, 3rd M Neill, 4th J Laverty, 5th A Seeley, 6th B Burrell
ISB Race 1 – 1st M Laverty, 2nd M Neill, 3rd I Lowry, 4th J Laverty, 5th A Seeley, 6th B McCormack
ISB Race 2 – 1st M Laverty, 2nd I Lowry, 3rd A Seeley, 4th B Burrell, 5th M Dunlop, 6th B McCormack
Supersport Race 1 – 1st M Neill, 2nd S Lowes, 3rd B Wilson, 4th J Ellison, 5th K Jamison, 6th J Westmoreland
Supersport Race 2 – 1st M Neill, 2nd J Ellison, 3rd J Westmoreland, 4th B McConnell, 5th M Dunlop, 6th K Jamison
125GP Race 1 – 1st A Reid, 2nd N Percy, 3rd R English, 4th P Jordan, 5th P Robinson, 6th W Dunlop
125GP Race 2 – 1st A Reid, 2nd R English, 3rd N Percy, 4th P Jordan, 5th C English, 6th L Johnston
Supertwins Race 1 – 1st R Farquhar, 2nd M Lennon, 3rd M Sweeney, 4th J Hamilton, 5th C O’Neill, 6th M Glasgow
Supertwins Race 2 – 1st R Farquhar, 2nd M Lennon, 3rd M Sweeney, 4th J Hamilton, 5th M Glasgow, 6th C O’Neill
250GP Race 1 – 1st M Hanna, 2nd P Robinson, 3rd P Jordan, 4th R Glasgow, 5th D Craig, 6th W Hamilton
250GP Race 2 – 1st M Hanna, 2nd P Robinson, 3rd C Elkin, 4th W Hamilton, 5th R Shanahan, 6th T Henry
Supersport 400 Race 1 – 1st C Phillips, 2nd J Loughlin, 3rd R Maher, 4th J McCay, 5th M Jordan, 6th J Chawke
Supersport 400 Race 2 – 1st J Loughlin, 2nd C Phillips, 3rd R Maher, 4th J McCay, 5th M Jordan, 6th A Griffin
Sidecar Race 1 – 1st B Birchall/T Birchall, 2nd T Reeves/G Cluze, 3rd S Lawrie/J Neave, 4th J Clarke/S Graham, 5th B Peddar/ R Steadman, 6th K Knapton/ A Galligan.
Sidecar Race 2 – 1st B Birchall/T Birchall, 2nd T Reeves/ G Cluze, 3rd J Clarke/S Graham, 4th S Lawrie/ J Neave, 5th B Peddar/ R Steadman, 6th K Knapton/ A Galligan