Season so far - Exceeding expectations
Eugene McManus Junior came into the 2017 Motostar season looking to improve his race craft and gain valuable experience in one of the most competitive Championships in the world.
Little did he or the team know that he would fast become a leading contender for the title.
E15 Racing ensured Eugene would have every opportunity this year by securing an RS Racing package, Ryan Saxelby has a proven track record in this class, with his guidance and expertise the RS Racing KTM would be more than capable of running at the sharp end.
Round 1 of the Hel Performance Motostar British Championships at Donington Park, became a weekend to remember for the Randalstown youngster, After a fall in qualifying Eugene was placed 15th on the grid for race one. In sensational style the Wee Bull claimed third place over the line and his maiden podium at The British Championships, to the delight of his team. In Race 2 Eugene showed consistent form taking a fourth place. Eugene left Donington with a 29 point haul and the overall lead in the Motostar Championship.
Round 2 - Eugene went into Race 1 confident he could maintain the great start at Donington.
In Race 1 he led for the first time in his career but slid off on lap 10;
" I had never led a race before, coming into druids I got a bit excited and lost the front, it was a simple mistake that cost me my chance of a win, I know how it feels now to lead and will make sure I keep everything under control next time."
Race 2 saw The Wee Bull collect another podium as he finished behind the two City Lifting riders,Tom Booth Amos and Jake Archer, both also on board RS Racing built Ktm's. Eugene dedicated his trophy to his Granda Danny who was recuperating in hospital after a recent bout of ill health.
E15 Racing's media officer led the tributes to Eugene after the exciting finish to round 2:
"As a photographer and media officer, I get the opportunity to be part of and enjoy one of the most exciting sports in the world. This weekend at Brands Hatch I witnessed a display of natural talent and bravery from a young man I am only just getting to know, from a family with a true racing pedigree.Today during the Motostar race, I put down my camera kit and cheered on from trackside as the "Wee Bull" fought for a podium with Richard Kerr. This lad shows no fear yet has his feet firmly planted on the ground. He listen's and learn's quickly. Eugene McManus Jnr, without doubt, is a star in the making. this is just my opinion but i'm pretty sure by the end of 2017 many more will agree with me."
John Willumsen ( Johny ) - Burnout Media Uk
Into Round 3 and with the support of his family in pit lane Eugene McManus Jnr continued his incredible run of form with another podium finish this time going one better finishing a brilliant second.
Eugene Jnr:" I am loving every moment this season, I never thought I would be winning trophies so soon and I love the battles with Tom and Jake!! thank you to my sponsors and a special mention to my family for all their support"
Going into the break before Knockhill, it was clear to many that Eugene had exceeded all expectations and Eugene Senior was quick to play down the hype;
"we aren't getting carried away, don't forget this is only his second season in racing"
Knockhill Round 4 and Eugene wasn't ready to stop the momentum picking up yet another podium in Race 2. His early season form had cemented him in the top 4 and he was unlucky not to collect a win, falling off in the lead during race 1. Moving onto Snetterton The Wee Bull was now looking like a championship contender.
Round 5 became a weekend to forget....After a crash in Qualifying, Eugene McManus Junior was declared unfit to ride for the remainder of the weekend's event. Eugene suffered a loss of consciousness which ruled him out of any further racing. This was just a precautionary measure as advised by the medical team.
Going into Round 6 at Brands Hatch Eugene senior added;
" After the off at Snetterton we have given junior time to recover, you can never be too careful with head injuries so we have taken all necessary precautions. We would like to thank Arai Helmets, Stuart Higgs and the medical team again for looking after Eugene"
" We don't want Eugene pushing too soon so this weekend we are looking for two solid finishes, nothing more.. we have another six rounds left and let's not forget this is still only his second season at this level, he is gaining valuable experience at each event and his time will surely come"
Round 6 - Brands Hatch GP circuit is one of the worlds most exciting and demanding configurations, on a good day it's testing enough but with weather conditions deteriorating' the decision was made to postpone and push back Race 1. This meant the Motostar paddock would now face two races on one day. Race 1 McManus Junior started way down in thirteenth position but this didn't deter the youngster as he fought through to battle for a podium position with Storm Stacey and Jake Archer. In an exciting finish, The Wee Bull was narrowly pipped by Stacey by 0.057 of a second. Eugene's performance elevated him to third on the grid for Race 2.
Race 2 and the last of the weekends entertainment turned out to be a real firecracker with Tom Booth Amos running away at the front for a double win at Brands. The ensuing battle behind between Eugene, Jake Archer, Storm Stacey and Ed Rendell was possibly the highlight of the race card with all four riders swapping places for the ten lap finale. Eugene finished third collecting his fifth podium of 2017.
Eugene has an incredible talent, with an experienced backroom team behind him he will become one of the new faces of British motorbike racing very quickly indeed. I am enjoying being part of his journey and look forward to the second part starting at Thruxton next weekend 4th-6th August.