Southern aces Derek Sheils and Derek McGee were the premier class winners at yesterday's 57th running of the Around-A-Pound Tandragee 100 Road Races, but sadly the curtain-raiser of this year's road racing season was cut short due to inclement weather and a serious incident involving Italian rider Dario Cecconi.
The big news in the run-up to the event was the return to road racing for Guy Martin, but it turned out to be nothing more than disappointment for both the new Honda Racing star and the large crowd trackside, as Martin crashed out of the Open race, taking Magherafelt's Paul Jordan with him.
The incident at Marlacoo Corner was nothing more than superficial and both men sat trackside putting the world to rights as Derek Sheils cruised to a 14-second victory aboard John Burrows' Cookstown BE Racing GSX-R1000 Suzuki. William Dunlop was second on his debut ride with Mar-Train Racing, aboard a Superstock specification Yamaha R1M.
Temple businessman Tim Martin stepped in at the last minute to support Dunlop, who was set to ride for Halsall Racing this season in the 1000cc classes, but the on-off nature of the venture seems to have left the affable Ballymoney man out in the cold, and it now remains to be seen if the Mar-Train deal will be extended.
An ever-present podium figure on the national road racing scene these days, Derek McGee, took third place in the Open non-championship race, albeit some 10n seconds down on Dunlop, with Michael Sweeney, Alan Bonner and Saintfield's Davy Morgan filling out the minor top six places.
Derek Sheils' fastest lap of 2mins 58.522sec was some two and half seconds outside Michael Dunlop's outright lap record for the Orchard County circuit, which has stood since 2011.
Mullingar's McGee [McGee Yamaha] went one better in the Supersport encounter, making the best of the wet and slippery conditions to see off pre-race favourite and pole position man William Dunlop on Ivan Curran's Caffrey Transport-backed R6 Yamaha.
Dunlop, openly vocal of his dislike of wet road racing conditions, came home some 16 seconds behind McGee, with Dubliner Derek Sheils taking third place and yet another Tandragee 100 podium on board John Burrows' Cookstown Meats sponsored Honda.
Paul Jordan showed no signs of ill-effects after his coming together with Guy Martin to finish fourth on the B&W Site Sealants Kawasaki - the very same machine that was taken to British Supersport success last season by Tarran Mackenzie.
Jordan has had a great off-season, securing top backing and will make his 1000cc class debut on the EvolutionCamping.com S1000RR BMW at next weekend's KDM Hire Cookstown 100 - a home circuit for the Magherafelt butcher, who picked up the Man of the Meeting there in 2016. Fifth and sixth in the Supersport race at Tandragee were Graham Kennedy and Paul Williams.
The closest finish of the day was reserved for the Moto3/125GP race, where Adam McLean took the win by a tyre width over Sam Wilson. The final two races of the day were abandoned after the incident involving Cecconi, who is said to be in a critical condition.