Stuart in driving seat after a Super Kirkistown double
Ballycastle's Charles Stuart took two scintillating Superbike triumphs at Kirkistown on Saturday to move into the lead of the Irish Superbike Championship. The 26-year-old, who was riding the Parker Car Transport R1 Yamaha, was made to fight all the way for his wins.
He held off Kawasaki's Mark Glasgow, his main rival in the Championship chase, by three quarters of a second in race one and also set the fastest lap of the race at 97.235mph on lap four of eight.
That was just over six tenths slower than the circuit lap record of 98.341mph, which has been held by Australian Cameron Donald since 2012.
Athlone rider Cody Nally, who was third in race one, came within a whisker of beating Stuart in race two.
Just four hundredths of a second separated the pair as they flashed past the chequered flag, with Stuart just ahead. Nally set the fastest lap of the day at 97.498mph.
Adam McLean, the 21-year-old from Tobermore who was fourth in race one, brought the A&B Installations Kawasaki home in third spot just a second and a half behind Nally.
Glasgow dropped to fourth and surrendered the Championship lead to Stuart, and 14 points now separate the pair.
Aaron Clifford was in stunning form in the Supersport races. The 17-year-old from Tara led home a Kingsbury Packaging Kawasaki one-two in race one, a tenth of a second ahead of team-mate Ross Patterson with Christian Elkin, who was on the Wylie Kawasaki, a further three tenths back in third.
Clifford then set the fastest Supersport lap of the day in race two at 96.119mph to win by a comfortable 3.4 seconds over Elkin and Patterson.
Andy Brady defended his Crown Prince of Kirkistown title in the Pre-injection class. He won both races by over 10 seconds to claim the title for a third time.
Former King of Kirkistown Abe Alexander was a guest of the promoting B&D club and presented the Crown Prince trophy to Brady.
Eunan McGlinchey won both Production Twins with ease, while Mark Hanna and Marty Lennon shared the Supertwin events. Simon Reid, son of former World F2 champion Brian, is still leading the championship after finishes of second and third.
Scott Swann (14), who was recently selected to ride in the 2018 British Talent Cup, took a win and a second place in the Moto3 races, Dean Campbell was a Lightweight Supersport double winner - as was Tom Greenwood in the Young Guns challenge - and Johnny Campbell, another 14-year-old selected for the British Talent Cup, won the second Junior Cup race. Jordan McCord took race one from Campbell.
Meanwhile, at Laurelbank, Saintfield during the final Ulster Championship motocross meeting of the season, Richard Bird (KTM) wrapped up his third Premier Ulster MX1 Championship with a treble and collected the Brian Bell Memorial Trophy at the Temple Club event.
Bird also won the first Premier MX2 race and finished second to Glenn McCormick in the second and third races to finish what has been a terrific season for the Lisburn rider.
In the three MX1 races, he won races one and two by over three seconds from Jim O'Neill with Sean Devlin third. Devlin stepped up to second in race three in which Craig Brown was third - O'Neill a non-starter.
McCormick finished just over half a second behind Bird in the first MX2 race, but won races two and three by comfortable margins.
• Nine-time World champion Valentino Rossi was released from hospital on Saturday having had overnight surgery to pin, plate and have an internal fixator fitted to the broken tibia and fibula on his right leg, the result of a crash while practicing ahead of the next MotoGP round in Italy.
In a statement, Rossi said: "The surgery went well. Now I want to get back on my bike as soon as possible. I will do my best to make it happen."