Derek McGee leading Adam McLean, Jason Lynn and Michael Dunlop at the second supersport race in Kirkistown on Saturday. Photo: Shaun Lewis

McGee records podium after two years away from racing

Derek McGee turned 35 on Friday of last week and returned to racing on Saturday, and was pleased with his performance following an absence from competition of almost two years.

After a couple of productive testing sessions in recent weeks, first at Mondello Park and then at Kirkistown in County Down, Derek returned to the northern track on Saturday for the President’s Cup event promoted by the Belfast and District Motor Club.

Speaking on Sunday, he was pleased with a third and a fifth in the two supersport races: “We’re happy with how it went, as there was a good quality field there,” he said.

The race in which he scored the podium could even have been a win, he said: “In the second supersport race, early on I was sitting behind Alastair Seeley [in second position], and I was having a bit of a battle with Adam McClean, and I unfortunately ran off the track. I got too close to Adam and I just had to release the brake and run to the outside, so I was back to about seventh."

Derek testing Ryan Farquhar’s super twin on Monday of last week. He will be racing it at Armoy. Photo: Jimmy Graham

“I managed to work my way back up to third but by that stage Seeley had gone out with a mechanical problem and then the following lap Adam went off at the same part of the track that I went off, so if I’d held my position, I would have had the win. The three of us had a little gap over Michael Dunlop and Jason Lynn at that stage, they were the next lads coming along.

“Anyway, I was happy enough with the pace, having not raced in a long time, to be up there running with those lads and especially on the short circuit.”

Earlier in the day Derek had finished fifth in the first supersport race and learned enough from that to be more competitive later on.

“As the day went on we got better. We changed the chassis set-up for the second race and felt a lot more comfortable. Seeley was edging away, he was probably about a second and a half ahead [when Derek went off], but I was happy to keep that distance to him.”

He also raced on the superbike and was delighted with a strong qualifying session, in which he put in his fastest ever lap at Kirkistown on that bike.

In the first race: “I got a good enough start, but then I was run off track. I qualified ninth and I was up to about sixth and I was shoved off on the first lap. I got going again and then had some brake issues, so we came in, and we got the brakes sorted for the second race.

“We got another good start in that and another rider nearly took me out again, nearly ran me off the track altogether when I was up to about fifth position.”

The assailant was a less experienced competitor, who also clashed with Michael Sweeney in the same move. “Lucky enough, I just caught him coming in the corner of my eye, and I had to lift – if I hadn’t the two of us were down.”

Derek generously said the incident was due to a “young and exuberant rider who knew he had done wrong”.

“I was a bit disappointed with the superbike results. I don’t think they showed where we’re at. Sweeney was just ahead, Alastair Kirk and Adam McClean, and if everything was right, we could have run with them. Seeley and [Derek] Shields were first and second in both races, and their pace was about a half second or a second on all of us. From third back to maybe seventh it was quite close.

“Overall it was a positive weekend. It was nice to get back in the mix. It’s two years since I raced, and 2015 was the last time I raced at that track, so happy enough. We’ll push on for Armoy now and hopefully get another short circuit in between as well.”