Derek McGee couldn’t have asked for a better start to the new Irish road racing season as the Mullingar rider turned in a man of the meeting performance at the KDM Hire Cookstown 100.
McGee chalked up a treble, winning the Moto3/125GP, Supertwin and feature Superbike races at the Orritor course in Co. Tyrone on Saturday.
The triple Irish champion is now looking ahead to this weekend’s Around-A-Pound Tandragee 100 in Co. Armagh, when McGee is targeting more success prior to the start of the major international road racing season at the North West 200 next month.
He was declared the winner in the restarted Cookstown 100 Superbike race after the result was called after three laps following a second red flag.
Fortunately none of the riders involved in either incident were seriously hurt, but the organisers decided against attempting a second restart.
The stoppages ruined what was turning into the best race of the day, with McGee, Derek Sheils, Adam McLean and Michael Sweeney in close company.
However, the red flags came out after the riders had completed three laps, with McGee sealing the win on his NJ Doyne/CITP Kawasaki by only 0.092s over Sheils (Burrows Engineering/RK Racing Suzuki).
McAdoo Racing’s McLean was only 0.6s further back in third, with Sweeney taking fourth on the MJR BMW.
McGee said: “It’s a fantastic start for the team and having the continuity of the same bikes from last year has been a big help.
“It was nice to win the big race and I was leading both times when the red flags came out. Myself and Roddy Hayes put a lot of work into the 1000cc Kawasaki over the winter with support from MSS Kawasaki to get to where we are now.
“It’s a Superstock bike and it has just been refreshed for this season.”
McGee was a runaway winner on the ex-Grand Prix Moto3 Honda, which he is riding for Italian race enthusiast and mechanic Francesco Faraldo this year.
He won by over nine seconds from Nigel Moore, with Kevin Fitzpatrick in third.
The race was brought forward on the programme with damp roads prevalent in the morning, although the event escaped the forecast heavy rain. Cold temperatures and strong winds did cause a few problems for the riders, but the Cookstown club ran through the full race programme efficiently.
A nip and tuck Supertwin race also went to McGee, but he was certainly made to work hard for his second win of the day by young prospect McLean.
They battled it out throughout the seven-lap race, with McGee edging ahead by half-a-second on the Jason McCaw-backed KMR Kawasaki. Sweeney completed the rostrum places on the Kiely Heating Kawasaki.
Tobermore man McLean took the spoils in a close Supersport race for local team McAdoo Racing, holding off McGee by three-tenths-of-a-second after four laps.
The race was red-flagged after reports of safety equipment being blown onto the course by the wind.
Paul Jordan finished a close fourth on Alistair Russell’s Yamaha R6, followed by Sheils on the Roadhouse Macau Racing Yamaha.
McGee said: “I got a good start in the Supersport race but the bike bogged down at the first corner and I dropped back to fourth.
“I worked my way through again and had just passed Adam into the first corner when the red flag went out.
“They took the result from the previous lap but that’s just the way it goes. I was happy because I had good pace and the bike was working really well.”
Sheils clinched his fifth Superbike victory in succession in the Open A Superbike race, hitting the front and gradually pulling a gap to win by over three seconds from McLean and McGee, who both opted to ride their 600 Kawasaki machines on the patchy roads.
The Burrows Engineering/RK Racing Suzuki rider lost his unbeaten record in the class to McGee in the final race of the day, when Sheils was left frustrated after the result was called following three laps.
“I don’t know how you can call it a race after three laps, so I was a bit disappointed to be fair,” he said.
“I felt I had the pace to get away but it’s difficult to pass at Cookstown if you don’t have the lead into the first corner.
“We’re still learning the new bike but it felt good and we’ve a few changes to make to get it right for the nationals.”
The action comes thick and fast with the Around-a-Pound Tandragee 100 taking centre stage this weekend.
Roads close at 3pm on Friday for practice and from 10am on Saturday for the main race programme.