After the long winter lay-off, Ulster Motocross shampionship season wakes up with a trip to the world-famous Desertmartin circuit for the opening round of Quadcross, Veterans, Sidecarcross and new Ballymac Hotel U23 Championships on Saturday.
Promoted by the Cookstown Club, the highlight will, if past seasons are an indicator, the U23 Championship, run for all three classes concurrently.
With the age limit raised from 21 to 23, this will allow past champions, and some fast youngsters back into the class, so defending Premier Class Champion Loughbricklands John Meara, now mounted on a 450cc TMC Honda, will have his hands full, not just with his younger brother Jason, still on the 250cc TMC Honda, but also with Larne’s Michael McCammond,
Dromara’s Ryan Adair and Stuart Fee, and Glenoes Glenn McCormick, back on KTM after a year on Kawasaki machinery, and Michael Mahon from Dublin and Ed Allingham form Greysteel joining a host of fast youngsters in the Semi-expert and Clubman classes racing will be exciting through the whole field.
Turning to the Premier Quadcross, defending Champion David Cowamn from Lisburn will again have multiple challengers in Sean Goss from Newry, Justin Reid from Comber and Limavady’s Michael McAneny, and of course, promising young rider Dean Colhoun will be hoping for an injury free season to see if he can challenge the established names.
These will be backed up by a full gate of Clubman Quadcross riders challenging for their own Championship.
The sidecar-cross outfits now have their own championship, upgraded from Challenge status, defending Champions Neil Campbell and Ross Graham from Lisburn will be hoping for another perfect season.
But a strong challenge will come from near neighbours Gary Moulds and new passenger Ben Alexander, both these crews will be competing in the British Sidecarcross Championship in 2013, a great step forward for the sport in Ireland.
In the Veterans Championship for over 35s, defending Premier Class Champion Waringstown’s Jonathan Fairley will be hoping to recover from a practice crash which led to broken ribs in January.
That’s especially so because there will be some new faces in this class this year, including fast Ballynahinch man, Stephen Kelly, as well as last year’s runner up Alan Magee from Crossgar and Ricky Watt from Ravarnett.
Semi-expert Champion Dundrum man Roy Kennedy will be back to defend his title from fast riders such as Cliffy Bailey, and the closest finish of 2012 between Lisburn’s Andy Owens and Aghagallon’s Damien McGavigan - Andy won a tie-break - will be repeated in the Clubman class.
Practice in Desertmartin starts at 9.30am, with the racing under way from 11am, all classes get three races, full day guaranteed, £5 adult, U14s free, great day out for all the family.