Belfast Telegraph

Let Joey's son Gary enjoy it: Burrows

By Paul Lindsay

Gary Dunlop - son of the late, great Joey - joined 70 newcomers making their pure road racing debut at the JMF Haulage-backed Mid Antrim 150, to raise the curtain on this year's Irish National Road Racing scene.

One newcomer in particular stood head and shoulders above the rest - 20-year-old Malachi Mitchell-Thomas, who recorded his very first Irish National road race with a Supersport win with the Cookstown B E Racing team.

With Derek Sheils grabbing pole position on the Dunlop shod Cookstown B E Racing Suzuki in the Superbike class for today's races and young Malachi a fabulous victory, it's fair to say team boss John Burrows was cock-a-hoop.

Speaking of Gary Dunlop's debut between the hedges, the former racer then said: "It's great to see Gary out.

"He's a nice lad and will no doubt get a lot of attention because of his father being Joey.

"But he's got good people around him and his cousin William (Dunlop) is a level-headed lad, so he won't struggle.

"I just hope people leave him alone to enjoy it."

It was certainly wet and wild and as one hardy fan put it, 'a day for Wellies', referring to his trusty Wellington boots, as rivers of water ran down the roads surrounding Clough village in Co Antrim.

But it didn't deter a packed entry, with Ballymoney ace Dunlop joining his contemporaries splashing around the 3.5-mile circuit.

This gave him his first taste of road racing action, which his famous father - 26 times an Isle of Man TT winner - did many times during his illustrious career.

Dunlop may have made the pre-race headlines, but it was former Senior Manx Grand Prix winner Mitchell-Thomas who everyone will be talking about after that amazing first-day victory on the Irish roads.

The 20-year-old Bolton-based youngster, himself a national road racing newcomer, didn't take long to acclimatise himself to the fast and flowing Mid Antrim circuit.

He took pole position in the Supertwin class and third place on the Superbike grid behind team-mate Sheils, and the king of Mid Antrim, Ryan Farquhar.

But that aside, to take the Supersport win on his debut rendered team boss Burrows virtually speechless.

But young Malachi was full of joy and said: "It's my first time racing on the Irish roads and it was exactly what I expected - I loved it.

"I'll not get too carried away as it was a wet race win, but I clicked straight away with the Mid Antrim circuit, and had no real moments at all - I can't wait for tomorrow now.

"After what we've been through this past nine months it's great for everyone involved in the team - none less than Jamie Hamilton himself - to grab a win here at Mid Antrim," said Burrows, referring to young Hamilton who survived a horror crash during last year's Senior TT.

"We were delighted to be able to bring Malachi into our team for this season.

"Everyone knows I have a passion for national road racing and to come and win so soon with a new rider is just perfect, but we will not get carried away."

Praising the youngster, Burrows added: "He didn't get his talent in a lucky bag: this kid is the real deal and has fitted in well with us."

Today's Mid Antrim 150 boasts an £18,000 prize, with the JMF Building Services Open Grand Final winner set to take home £1,500.

Roads close this morning at 10am for a scheduled 12-race programme and then reopen at 6.30pm.

It should certainly be a great day's action.

Belfast Telegraph


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