It is obviously ridiculously early and things are subject to change (and are changing almost daily) thanks to Covid-19, however the Provisional 2021 Road racing Schedule has been complied and who could blame you for looking forward to some road racing after the year 2020 has been (with the exception of course of the fabulous 2020 Cookstown 100)!
The Gloucester-based Smiths Racing team has announced they will quit motorcycle racing after this weekend’s final round of the British Superbike Championship.
The team has enjoyed extensive success in British Superbikes and at the Isle of Man TT, North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix international road races.
Having competed for 11 years, the BSB round at Brands Hatch this weekend will mark their departure from the sport.
Peter Hickman has achieved all of his five TT wins to date with the team.
The family-run outfit have become a dominant force on the roads since making their debut on closed public road circuits at the North West 200 in 2014.
Their first TT win came that same year with Gary Johnson winning the Supersport TT, with more victories following in the hands of Hickman, plus the outright lap record for the Mountain Course of 135.452mph in 2018.
Hickman also won a record-breaking seven races in a weekend for Smiths at the 2019 Ulster Grand Prix, upping the lap record to 136.415mph. With other successes at the North West 200 and Macau Grand Prix, the tally stands at an impressive 21 major road race victories and multiple podiums.
Under the guidance of Alan Smith and his daughter Rebecca, the team arrived into the British Championship paddock in 2010 and took their first podium in their debut season with Dan Cooper riding the Smiths Triumph to third place in the British Supersport race at Knockhill.
As the official Triumph factory entry, the team won their first British Supersport Championship in 2012 with Glen Richards before fellow Australian Billy McConnell took their second title in 2014.
The team also scored points in selected World Supersport Championship races before moving into British Superbikes in 2015 where McConnell took their debut podium at Cadwell Park.
A further seven podiums were highlighted by Peter Hickman winning a race at Thruxton in 2017 and going on to claim a Showdown spot for three successive years with a best result of fourth overall in the 2017 British Superbike Championship.
Rebecca Smith, the team owner, said: “We have had a wonderful experience and gained lots of fantastic memories in the British Superbike and Supersport Championships and at the TT, NW200, Ulster GP and Macau GP over the past decade or so.
“We have enjoyed a lot of success but now as a family and a business, we wish to concentrate our efforts in other directions. I would like to thank all of our riders, team members, sponsors, fans and organisers who have been instrumental in our successes over the years.
“While it is the end of an era for Smiths Racing as a family owned and operated team, some elements will continue in a new guise and we wish everyone involved good luck for the future.”
So the big question is what we wee Peter Hickman on next season and the next TT? I reckon it will be ‘Hickman Racing’ and hopefully still feature a BMW, but hey ho that’s just a guess.
This post will serve as a ‘Stickie’ and will remain at the top of the TBNI.Blog Homepage. It will be updated as a News Ticker with relevant news and headlines in relation to the 2021 Isle of Man TT Races.
No one thought it happen – road racing in 2020, but it did!
Full credit must go to Cookstown 100 Club and every member of the team who pushed forward with what at times must have seemed like an impossible task – running a road race in 2020 and under the ever present cloud of Covid-19.
But press ahead they did and the result was an extremely successful and extremely well run 2020 Cookstown 100. There were some restrictions in place such as movement around the course and the numbers of people who could be admitted, none of which were under the control of the Club. You can after all only play the hand you are dealt, and they played their hand well.
In 2020 if the only thing you can complain about is that the weather closed in and meant the feature superbike race had to be called off, then you have done well, and really that’s all there is to complain about – the Northern Irish weather – typical. But, for most of the day it was grand, warm and dry – couple that with a ‘full house’ and riders and teams who were clearly thrilled to be back on the roads and you get a brilliant road race.
The only disappointment now is that that is all 2020 has to offer in the Northern / Irish Racing Calendar. One thing is for sure it will have wet the appetite for 2021!
Onto the racing and we saw the return of Adam McLean after his off at 2019 Tandragee and he came back with the outstanding form he had been showing prior to the Tandragee incident – excellent – resulting in a double for him in the Supersport and Supertwin classes, and adding the Supertwin lap record to his list of accolades.
The Superbike Open race took three attempts to get a result, the win for Derek Shiels on his BMW showed more of the same from the Irish man – fast and stylish – as we have grown accustomed two over previous years and brought his total to 9 wins at Cookstown.
Paul Jordan continued to show his class and form, taking a strong win in the Moto3 / 125cc class.
Neil Kernohan with his distinctive helmet and always immaculately turned out machines took the 250cc / Lightweight class and Barry Davidson took the Junior Classic.
Vinny Breenan took the first race of the Day in the Senior Support Class, Junior Support was lifted by Michael Gillan by over 4 seconds in an impressive race.
On the first anniversary of the passing of one of Irelands most popular road race team owner, Wilson Craig, it has been announced, that the team will continue to grace the road scene, albeit with a new owner!
With the blessing of Mrs Craig, the team will be run under the guidance of Darren Gilpin, Darren has worked with Wilson for the past seven years.
With the WCR machines having been based at Darren’s own workshop, it was an easy decision to make, and for road race fans, we will continue to see the iconic red and silver machines grace the road circuits.
However, for the new-look team, it will be a completely different approach, as the team will be concentrating on supporting a newcomer to the roads, who will compete in the Senior Support class, along with the Moto 3 class.
Having competed on short circuits, with the KDM Hire Cookstown 100 pencilled in for his road race debut, Antrim rider Stephen Smith is relishing the new challenge.
Stephen will have the use of two brand new Hondas, 600CBR, and 250 NSF Machines.
To the joy of road racing fans the world over we have actually had some racing in 2020! From 14th – 16th August Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough held the Barry Sheene Classic. A day of practice and qualifying followed by two days of flat out non stop racing.
The Oliver’s Mount events are ones that I do not normally cover, mainly because I have no chance of getting any where them but this year I did follow them quite intently on Twitter and on the live timings site and have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the coverage, tweeting and online content that I could find.
UKClubSport have done an excellent job in putting the results together for every qualifying session and race. You will find every result from the 2020 Oliver’s Mount Barry Sheene Classic here :
It brings me great pleasure to say that Northern Ireland’s own Lee Johnston shone to make it a perfect four out of four in the Supersport category.
Dean Harrison also brought his A-game and made it a superb five from five in the Classic Superbike races.
What a packed weekend that event was with a huge 31 races ran over the two race days. That really makes me want to make the trip over.
Oliver’s Mount next event is scheduled to be the Gold Cup due to run on the weekend of the 11th – 13th September 2020. Unfortunately that clashes directly with the planned dates for the rescheduled 2020 Cookstown 100.
The Cookstown & District Motor Cycle Club have confirmed, that, the postponed race meeting, will now take place on Friday and Saturday 11th/12th September.
Following the recent COVID 19 updates, the club is now in the position to put the final touches to their plans for what will be the Only road race to take place in 2020.
For the event to take place, the Club has taken a sensible and responsible approach, working with Sport NI and other various bodies, which will result in some significant changes.
Spectator numbers will be restricted to 1000 on Friday and 1600 on Saturday, and will only be allowed in designated areas.
The KDM Hire Cookstown 100 will be a “Closed Event”, a successful online Booking system has been in operation, which has enabled the organizers to follow the strict guidelines put in place by Department for Communities & NI Sports Forum.
A race programme which will include a unique wristband will be posted out to everyone who has used the Booking system
Only those with a Wristband will gain access
There will be 10 designated spectator areas located around the 1.7 mile circuit. These areas will allow a maximum number of spectators in each so that any regulations in respect to mass gatherings in one area can be maintained and managed.