Northern Ireland’s Martin Barr is the latest high-profile motocross rider to sign up for the 2019 Arenacross tour that kicks off with a double header in Belfast 18th and 19th January.
The Ballyclare man who recently signed to contest both the outdoor 2019 British MX2 Championships for Crescent Yamaha has now secured an Arenacross ride where he will race in front of his home fans for the first time at the SSE Arena since 2013.
Back then he literally turned up with a bike and got stuck in to finish fourth behind Adam Chatfield, Nev Bradshaw and Jack Brunell.
“I really enjoyed it, and always said I’d like to do the full series again,” he said. “When the chance came up, via Paul Denning of Crescent Yamaha and Arenacross promoter Matt Bates, to take part in the 2019 Tour, I jumped at it.”
Barr has fond memories from his first ever Pro Arenacross where he finished on the rostrum as an 18 year-old behind world champion Sebastian Fratelli and Canadian supercross rider Josh Woods.
“It was a special night back in 2005,” he recalled. “I have had a couple of main event victories over my career, the last back in 2010 on a TAS Suzuki but the one back in 2005 is the one that stands out in my mind.
“The crowd that night went absolutely bananas as I took third. It meant a lot to me standing on the podium with all those guys who were at the top of the sport back then.
“Also I was on a Yamaha 250 two-stroke in 2005, so who knows it might be a good omen as I’m back on a Yamaha this time around. I know it is not going to be easy but to have our own 250 races and then the final against the 450s is going to be mega.
“The gate pick will be an advantage and, whilst they’ll have the horsepower, we can control the inside. It will be all on the first couple of laps and the key will be to get away and stay clean.
“Some corners will suit the 450, however, I’m a firm believer that on its day the 250 could go out and win no problem.”
The home crowd will be behind you 100% so that must be an advantage?
“Performing in front of a home crowd is always amazing and the atmosphere in the arena is usually as tense as the racing itself,” said Barr.
“It’s such a great family night out and I know the support will be incredible. I will be fighting for podiums to give the spectators plenty to cheer about, and aim to prove that, even though I’ve been away from Arenacross for a few years, I will still be a real threat.
“I’m really looking forward to it and, dare I say, I’m quietly confident. I’ve still got the fire in my belly!”
Meanwhile, there was good news for 14-year-old Belfast rider Drew McCreanor when he was chosen from nearly one hundred applicants, to make the final twelve that will contest the six round Team Green Supermini Cup series at this year’s Arenacross UK series.
McCreanor had a memorable 2018 season winning the Irish BW85cc title, finish runner up in the Ulster championship and also fourth in the British Youth despite missing the final round through injury sustained at the Coupe de L’Avenir where he broke his collarbone.
That was seven weeks ago and the Belfast teenager is back fit and well and raring to go again as he prepares for the opening round of the Team Green Supermini Cup in Belfast. The Craigavon Senior High pupil is no stranger to Arenacross having raced a few years ago in the 65cc class in the Belfast round finishing second on both nights in front of the home fans.
“I have always wanted to race in the Arenacross again and complete in a full series,” he said. “That opportunity came a couple of weeks ago when the organiser’s announced the Team Green Supermini Cup and I applied.
“I was delighted when I received the email that told me that I was successful and would be riding a Kawasaki for the first time.
“I’m not sure what to expect but I would love to be up at the sharp end challenging for wins and podiums.”