Glenn Irwin hopeful of green light to join top riders at Belfast Arenacross
Glenn Irwin is hoping to get the all-clear next week to take his place in the home round of Arenacross at the SSE Arena next month.
Irwin sustained a nasty injury in the final round of the MXGP series in Italy back in October, forcing him out of the Irish Motocross de Nations team at the last moment.
The Carrickfergus rider, who returns to the World Motocross championship in 2019 with Crossgar business man Roger Magee's KTM UK team said yesterday: "I have an appointment with my doctor on Thursday next week and hopefully I'll get the all-clear to resume riding again.
"That gives me five weeks to prepare for the Arenacross.
"I will only do the home round as I have a packed schedule in 2019 with the World and British championships and a couple of internationals.
"The atmosphere in the SSE Arena is amazing and I know the fans will be fully behind all the local riders. It is testament to Matt Bates and his team that they keep returning to Belfast to put on such a dynamic show."
Fellow east Antrim rider Martin Barr intends taking in all six rounds of the series on his new Crescent Yamaha YZ250f and relishes the opportunity to return to Belfast for the first time since 2013.
"I was always contracted to teams that didn't have an interest in doing the Arenacross series," said the Ballyclare man. "But Crescent are more than happy to have me on the grid.
"I know it's not going to be easy in the Pro Lites class and I'm already working on an intensity programme as, after the start gate drops, you need to be prepared and I'm not there to make up the numbers."
Local opposition to Barr in Pro Lites comes from 21-year-old Dundonald rider James Mackrel, also Yamaha mounted, and Larne Husqvarna rider Glenn McCormick, the 2018 Ulster MX2 champion.
Youth plays an important role at Arenacross and a new Team Green Supermini Cup will see a dozen selected riders do battle on similar 85cc Kawasakis, with one of those selected from almost 100 entries being 14-year-old Waringstown rider Drew McCreanor.
A first for Arenacross is that 10-year-old twins Robbie and Cole McCullough will contest the youngest category, the Youth 65cc series.
The boys are the sons of former Irish and Ulster MX champion Philip McCullough, who is also Ireland's Motocross des Nations team-boss.
Series organiser Matt Bates said: "It was 2001 when we started in Belfast and I remember Gordon Crockard winning on the first night when the local crowd nearly lifted the roof off what was then the Odyssey. Local spectators like to see local riders beating the imported stars."
An All-Ireland Arenacross Cup will see 24 of Ireland's best 450cc and 250cc riders go head-to-head through qualifying heats and a final to determine the winner.
Bates continued: "We will also invite around 100 schoolchildren, in a collaboration with W5, to come to the SSE Arena on the Wednesday (January 16), first of all to W5 and then to see everything that goes on behind the scenes to set-up a world class event, and then bring them back on Friday evening to sample the event in action first hand.
"We want this to be educational, but fun."
Tickets for Arenacross, to be held on Janaury 18-19, can be obtained through the usual Ticketmaster outlets or at www.arenacrossuk.com.