Kilkenny's Richie Ryan made Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship history at Mondello Park on Sunday September 29th, as he came out on top of the Superbike battle to become the first Triple Champion in the history of the class. The Supersport division went to Ray Casey from Cork, as that title also went down to the final day of the eighteen round series.
Richie Ryan's third championship triumph in a row was his hardest fought as the Mobil1 Yamaha rider was pushed harder this season than ever before. The Kilkenny man went into the final three races at Mondello Park's season finale with a slender lead over Ulster rider Luke Johnston, knowing that any slip up would hand the initiative to the Unlimited Industries BMW of his rival.
Saturday's opening race of the weekend followed a familiar pattern, with Ryan initially leading from Johnston, but in the closing stages a challenge for the lead by Johnston saw the top two collide, putting both out of the race and meaning the championship fight would continue to the final day of the season. The collision was good news for Peter Moloney as the man from Dungarvan finally took his maiden win, with EICL Yamaha mounted Dubliner Thomas O'Grady coming home second.
Sunday's race two looked like following the same pattern, with Ryan beating Johnston away from the lights. As the riders started lap two however, everything changed, as Johnston lost his bike under braking for the first turn and crashed out, meaning Ryan just had to finish in the top three to be crowned champion. The Kilkenny man then reeled off the laps to secure his hat-trick of titles as he came home ahead of O'Grady and surprise third place man, Edward Comerford.
The final race was an easy one for Ryan as his two main rivals, Johnston and Moloney did not make the start and he duly cruised to a ten second win. Behind him one of the best Superbike battles seen all year raged, as five riders battled for second place. In the end Thomas O'Grady emerged to take second, while Emmet O'Grady from Tralee took his, and the new Honda Fireblade's, first Masters podium. In the Superbike Cup a last corner crash for Frank Doherty in Saturday's opener, handed the class win and the 2019 title to Joe Grant, but he still raced in the final two rounds taking one more win and a third place.
In Supersport, Cork's Ray Casey and Limerick man Andrew Murphy were all set to battle it out for the title at the head of the field, but the re-appearance of fellow Munster resident Mike Browne meant they would not have it all their own way. Casey led race one initially but was passed by Browne, leaving the championship top two in a battle for second which ended with Casey ahead of Murphy as Browne took his second win of the year.
In the second race, on Sunday morning, Murphy and Casey only had eyes for each other as the title fight continued. Brown took off in the lead while behind him the championship contenders swapped places right up until the flag. In the end Casey sneaked the runner-up spot by less than a tenth of a second to put the championship out of Murphy's reach. In the same race Cavan's Darryl Sharkey came home fourth, and best of the Cup riders, to take his second title of 2019. The final race saw a reduced grid as there was little left to fight for, but Casey did appear and took another win as Murphy crashed out on the last lap. The accident handed second to Sharkey, with Tipperary teenager Oisin Maher taking his first podium, in third place, as well as lifting second in the Cup class.
Prior to securing the Supersport Cup Darryl Sharkey had wrapped up the Principal Insurance Pre-Injection crown for the a second time in three seasons to complete a fantastic season for the Cavan man, as he also took third overall in the Supersport class. The PCRS Production Twin championship went to Jamie Collins with the Supertwin division having been sown up by Ross Irwin earlier in the season.
The other champions crowned were, Chris Campbell in Classic Superbikes, Stephen Tobin who took the Moto 400 win, Derek Lynch and Anthony McDonnell who held onto their Sidecar lead despite a really poor weekend, Alex Duncan who came out on top in Junior Supersport and Reece Coyne, who was crowned Junior Cup champion in his absence due to injury.