Downey goes fastest as Wheelers host the West Down Grand Prix

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The West Down Wheelers promoted the West Down GP on Saturday May 25 with a clear blue sky, wall to wall sunshine and three races on offer.

Over 200 riders signed on and with two full fields in the A A2/A3 and B A4 races a good days racing were to be had.

The A race covered six laps of the hill circuit. The bunch stayed together for much of the race with a number of attacks that were not allowed to get to far before being pulled backed.

It was on the early stages of the last lap that a breakaway group attacked consisting of Mark Downey, Craig McAuley and David Hamilton, Davy McKnight made a brave solo counter attack but was unable to bridge the gap although he had them in his sights as they disappeared over the tough Rathfriland Hill.

The chasing group broke into many smaller groups as they climbed the hill. The decider was down to a fast sprint finish which was taken by the popular Dromore rider, Mark Downey ahead of Craig McAuley (VO2 Development Team) and David Hamilton (Curran Racing).

A race results: 1. Mark Downey (Nicholas Roche Development Team); 2. Craig McAuley (VO2 Development Team); 3.David Hamilton (Curran Racing); 4. Cathal Doyle (Carn Wheelers); 5. Gary Crory (VC Glendale); 6. Paul Ferguson (North Down CC); 7. Matthew Heany (Clann Eireann); 8. Stephen Harkins (Team Madigan); 9. Alex McDonald (Phoenix); 10. Mike Millar (Phoenix CC)

The B race covered five laps of the circuit. Again the group stayed together throughout the race averaging 24 mph, a number of attacks did develop but were short lived.

It was Newry Wheeler, Daniel McConville who crossed the line just ahead of Simon Gerrard U/A, Jason Glasgow (East Tyrone CC), Brain Hanna (West Down Wheelers), Neil Seffen (West Down Wheelers), and Matthew McKinstry (West Down Wheelers). The Wheelers had a good home run and managed to get three of their five riders in the top six placing.

B race results: 1. Daniel McConville (Newry Wheelers); 2. Simon Gerrard U/A; 3. Jason Glasgow (East Tyrone CC); 4. Brian Hanna (West Down Wheelers); 5. Neil Seffen (West Down Wheelers); 6. Matthew McKinstry (West Down Wheelers); 7. John Carey (North Down CC); 8. Kenny Bagnall (Newry Wheelers)

Over 20 competed in the masters and ladies event. The masters was won by Michael Toland (Phoenix CC), while the ladies race was won by Janine McNally (North Down CC).

A word of thanks must go to the commissaries on the day Dany Blondeel and Michael Murray, the two ladies from St Johns Ambulance, the large number of static and motorcycle marshals, the lead car and officials car drivers, and all those who helped organize and decorate the finish line.

A special thanks to all who provided the food and the two Barbaras for catering.

All in all the Wheelers can hold their heads up .

Now their our focus is on the fast approaching Eric Maxwell Memorial which will be held on the Warrenpoint Road in two weeks time, with 60 to 70 riders expected to take on this 10 mile TT.

On Tuesday night 48 riders from six local clubs took part in the Australian Pursuit.

A 20 mile hilly course had to be tackled and the winner of the the first of four rounds was Jonny Kernaghan and no doubt he the man to beat.

The next one is in a few weeks starts on the Castlewellan Road, about half mile up from Tesco.

It goes to the Castlewellan roundabout before returning to Banbridge.