Mark McLernon leads ACU British Quad Championship after perfect weekend
Mark McLernon had a sensational weekend of British Quad racing winning six out of six and now leads the championship by 29 points from his nearest rival Harry Walker after the double header of the Cromwell Trucks ACU British Quad Championship at Tandragee Motocross Park and Tinker Hill.
The 23-year-old Hillsborough rider was unstoppable over the two days starting at Tandragee where he was fastest in qualifying and in the opening race left the opposition trailing in his dust as he blasted away from the start gate to dominate the 20-minute plus two laps race, finishing over five seconds clear of English visitor Harry Walker.
Moira’s Dean Dillon powered his Walsh Honda past Murray Graham with three laps to go for third.
It was the same story in race two with McLernon leading away from the start to win from fellow Ulster rider Justin Reid on the Can-Am DS 450 XMX by eight seconds with Yamaha’s George Gallaway third and Dillon completing the top four.
Could anyone challenge the runaway race winner in the final race? The answer was no as the 2016 British Champion completed a clean sweep around the hard packed fast Tandragee track over seven seconds clear of Walker. Behind the front two there was a fantastic battle building between local riders Reid and Dillon. Reid at one point looked odds on to claim that final podium place but 17-year-old Moira teenager was on the move and from three seconds in arrears at one time he closed the gap to a bikes length with a couple of laps to go. It was now a race to the finish and the pair had the crowd on their toes with both riders not giving an inch as they fought for every piece of the track. It all came to a head on the final lap as they powered down the hill into the second last right-hander.
Reid was in front but Dillon made a pass on the inside and as both came to a halt Reid had stalled his engine but Dillon hadn’t and was the first to get away and take the chequered flag and his first ever British Championship podium finish. Reid managed to get his machine restarted and still finish fourth.
He said: “I still can’t really believe it to be honest. I came here expecting maybe top five or six as the British is so fast this year. There are only 15 riders out there but every single rider is on the pipe all the time.
“I’ve worked so hard for this and when everything falls into place it makes me even hungrier for more. I love it. I knew I had more in me after the opening two races and in the last one I gave it everything I had. The track kept getting faster and faster all day and to gain on someone like Justin, it just takes so much work and effort. I just tried to hit my markers every lap and it worked.
“I would say the last lap pass was fair we were both sliding in and luckily I got away before he did. I was ready for it and had the clutch in so I didn’t stall. I’ve no doubt Justin would have tried the same move. I’m so happy.”
McLernon was a very happy man leaving Tandragee saying: “I had a good day. First in qualifying and three wins, so you couldn’t beat it. A big thanks to Quadbikes R Us and Rea Engineering for all their support today.”
If Saturday was good for McLernon Sunday got even better as the local man again won all three again, this time at Tinker Hill. His opening two races were comfortable but English visitor Harry Walker pushed him all the way in race three, with only 0.268 seconds between them at the line after Justin Reid, the hole shot man suffered mechanical problems.
“It was just a perfect weekend,” said Mark. “In the first two races I made real good starts, made a gap and just kept it roughly the same throughout the race. Race three was slightly harder with Harry Walker keeping me honest to the finish. It is good leading the championship going into the next round this weekend at Mildenhall Motorpark, Ipswich. The sand will suit the Yamaha this weekend so I’m really looking forward to it.”
With Harry Walker again finishing runner up overall it was left to Justin Reid to provide the next top local finisher in fifth place behind the two Scottish visitors Murray Graham and George Callaway. The Belfast rider finished third in race one, fourth in race two and a disappointing 13th in race three.
“Today should have been better,” said a disappointed Justin. “I was third in race one and after not such a good start I fought my way through to fourth in race two. After getting the hole shot race in race three the axle broke over a big jump and I had to limp home for eight laps that at least gave me a points scoring finish. I’m fourth in the championship after finishing fifth overall today so I have work to do this weekend at Mildenhall.
“I wasn’t happy with Saturday’s last race. It was a mistake that cost me a shot at the podium. It happens. It’s tight racing and it’s never easy to pass and sometimes you have to force the issue. I suppose over the two days I have gathered decent points and I’ll live to fight another day.”
For Dillon Sunday was a day to forget with mechanical issues ruining any chance of a repeat of Saturday’s performance.
“I didn’t have much luck,” he said. “In the first race I was running third and at the half way stage I went over a jump and the frame split in two. I managed to finish but I was down in 13th. We changed bikes for race two and we had problems with the axle this time and again I came home 13th. In the final race I brought it home in third. I had good pace all day and was able to run inside the top three but overall it wasn’t meant to be. I have got my first podium, now I want to win!”