Cookstown and Tandragee 2011


Mickey D exiting Gortin Corner at Cookstown 2011

We have been going to the Cookstown meeting for a few years. It was actually the first meeting I ever attended several years ago. I am fortunate to have friends who live on the Orritor circuit, down at Gortin corner. For those of you who havent been, this corner is a 90 right after a half mile downhill straight scream from the start finish. Magic.

Now @callumitfc isnt the brightest first thing in the morning but always seems to be up in time for road racing. Strange that isnt it? Our routine on race day has become a bit of a ritual now. The sarnies, crisps, juice and other goodies are packed the night before and we try to leave the house as early as possible – normally about 7. Then it is breakfast and coffee time courtesy of our local McDs :) . Eating and drinking is done on the hoof. Now Callum started part time work at the newly opened Dominos in Carrick so getting Saturdays off was going to be difficult. He expected to get a call to work on this particular weekend so I decided not to park on the inside of the circuit where we normally do. We made good time and were happy enough to pay a fiver to park in a dry field on the Orritor Road – with an easy getaway if we needed it.

I forgot to mention that on the way to the circuit we pulled into Tescos Cookstown. Friends Jeanette and Robert who live on the circuit look after us very well all day so we always get them some buns and things. Low and behold a black Relentless van pulled up and out jumped Guy Martin – yes in his shorts. I didnt stalk him to see what he was buying (pasties and juice). The van left just ahead of us as we headed up the hill out of the town. I nearly wet myself when the back doors of the van flew open – obviously someone had forgotten to close it properly. We could clearly see the sparkling black Suzuki in the back and for a moment thought it was going to come flying out backwards and land on our bonnet.

Guy Martin at Tesco Cookstown

The weather was superb and the circuit looked in great nick although I did hear rumours of an unhappy local farmer planning to make things difficult.

This is looking back up towards start line from Gortin corner. An hour or so before roads closed.

After grabbing a quick cuppa and a bun we headed up to the paddock and start/finish. There was a good crowd of fans waiting to get first glimpse of the new machines, riders and teams for the new season.

We then headed to the back of Jeannete and Roberts house to take up our postion in the hedge on the exit of Gortin Corner. Bikes approach this corner very quickly before going hard on the brakes, almost 90 right and hard acceleration between the hedges.

The first superbike race started badly. All riders passed us ok but shortly afterwards the race was red flagged. After some usual confusion as to what had happened we heard the ominous sound of an ambulace siren. Czech rider Michal Dokoupil had suffered a bad crash and was taken to hospital. Other riders got caught up in the mess but were able to race in the later races.

Czech rider crashes at Cookstown 100 photo courtesy of

Ryan Farquhar from nearby Dungannon won 5 races at the meeting and is now the most successful Irish road racer of all time.

William Dunlop won a thrilling 250GP race by less than a second from Seamus Elliott who set the fastest lap.

In the 125GP race Dunlop had what seemed an unassailable 3.9sec lead going into the final lap.

But an ignition problem that had plagued the Delaney Honda throughout practice returned and the machine cut out fleetingly allowing Nigel Moore through to take the race win from Daley Mathison, Dunlop back in third.

We left Cookstown with just one of 17 races to go. Unfortunately Callum`s pizza making skills were required in Carrickfergus. A grand day indeed.

A week later it was time for Tandragee in County Armagh. The weekend didnt start well as I pulled my flipping back on the Friday evening and just hoped it wouldnt be too bad come Saturday morning. No such luck. Got up at the usual time around 0630 only to realise that I could hardly walk. I just about crawled into Callum`s room asked him if he would be upset if we didnt go? He said he would cry all day, so that was that then. It took about half an hour to get downstairs and into the car. I actually thought I wouldnt be able to get out of the car all bloody day :) .

Headed to Tesco, but couldn pull myself out so I asked Cal to go in and get us grub for the day and something strong for my back. He came back a few minutes later with 12 Tayto cheese and onion, 6 tins of coke and 2 heat wraps. Marvellous. After a drive through breakfast and coffee at Maccie Ds we were off. The weather was ok, just cold and we were on the circuit in about an hour.

We entered the circuit well before roads closed at Castle Corner and parked up in a little side road just up from Marlacoo. On previous visits we had watched from Bells Crossroads so we were looking forward to a different view. Amazingly the heat wrap that I had worn all the way from Carrick seemed to help a lot and I was able to get out of the car and the wee walk to our viewing spot helped.

We watched the first couple of races from the bank at Marlacoo, where we got a good view of machines bombing down the start before turning sharply right and uphill.

Have a look at for details of racing. The senior race was sensibly cancelled due to rain but overall was a great day.

The climb away from Marlacoo
                       Memorial to Martin Finnegan at Marlacoo

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