The Superbike class produced the best action of the weekend at the opening event of the 2017 Masters Superbike Championship, as Cody Nally returned to the top step of the podium for the first time since October 2014 in race one, before going on to take a dominant first ever Masters hat-trick.
Nally began the weekend well with second on the grid for race one, but the surprise early leader of the first race was Richie Ryan on his brand new Yamaha R1. By Lap two Nally’s familiarity with his Kawasaki proved too much for Ryan, who was still learning his new bike, as he moved by into the lead and then held off pole sitter Peter Moloney’s BMW to take the win.
Moloney and Nally lined up on the front row for race two but once again it was Ryan who leapt into the lead. This time the Superbike newcomer held on until lap eight before Nally pounced to take his second victory. Charles Stuart finished third, on his new Yamaha to take his first ever ever overall Masters Superbike podium. Stuart went on to initially lead race three from Ryan and Nally but on lap four Nally passed them both, before opening up a gap to his pursuers which he held till the flag. Three victories meant Nally left Mondello Park with a healthy championship lead from Ryan and Stuart.
In the Superbike Cup Michael Weldon was the first race winner, from David Halligan and Graham Kennedy, but newcomer Andrew Murphy dominated the remaining two encounters to keep some pressure on Weldon at the head of the points table.
In Saturday’s first Supersport race Ross Patterson took his second ever Masters victory just ahead of Dean McMaster, who had his best run yet to take second, followed by Aaron Clifford and Jason Lynn. The same quartet battled again in Race 2 on Sunday until a coming together between McMaster and Clifford put them both out. Having swapped the lead a number of times the remaining front runners, Lynn and Patterson, crossed the line together with Lynn getting the verdict by 0.009 of a second. Aaron Armstrong came home third to take his best ever Masters result.
Race three was again a Patterson and Lynn battle with Patterson getting the better of the backmarkers to defeat Lynn. Clifford took third but having had to start from ninth, due to his earlier non-finish, he was never a factor in the lead battle. Reigning British KTM Cup champion Aaron Wright, on his Supersport debut, took all three Cup victories but he was pushed hard by Eunan McGlinchy and Michael Brown.
The Principal Insurance Pre-Injection class was missing the top three from 2016 but that did not reduce the quality of the racing. Joe Grant was the delighted winner of Race 1 as he took his long awaited first victory. Former champion Paul McCrea came home second ahead of Darryl Sharkey. McCrea did not make the grid for races two and three leaving Grant with an easier run to his second win, while Sharkey and Enda Delaney took the remaining podium position. The final Principal Insurance backed race brought a hat-trick for Grant although this time he was pushed a lot harder by Sharkey for the win while Delaney again took third.
Having started its 2017 schedule in style, the Masters will be looking to build on its healthy entry when it returns to Mondello Park on May 6th & 7th. The second triple header of the year will run on the International track and will be a joint Masters and National Championship event.