Double podium success for Eugene McManus at Oulton Park
Randaltown’s Eugene McManus enjoyed a superb Pirelli National Junior Superstock round at OultonPark scoring two third place podium finishes.
The Completely Motorbikes / AffinitySports Academy rider was on the pace all weekend and now lies fifth in the championship on 130 points with two rounds and three races to the end of the season.
Eugene McManus ended Friday in third position after two free practice sessions and just 0.138 seconds behind the quickest rider. He rose on Saturday morning to find the rain falling on these first days of autumn. Making a cautious start the Randalstown racer moved from 15th in the early laps to 8th before entering the pits with around ten minutes to go. After some final adjustments he returned to the circuit. By the time he was up to speed he had slipped to 24th in the classification. A 1:54.154 put soon moved him up to 11th before he further improved to end the session with a lap time of 1:53.274 and fifth on the grid for race one.
In contrast to qualifying the track was dry for the first of the two races this weekend. Eugene put in a strong performance from the off quickly moving up from fifth to fourth on the second lap.
He went on to set consistent low 1:41 lap times as he managed to pick off the rider in third spot on lap six. With his almost metronomic lap times he comfortably pulled away from the rider in fourth. Setting his fastest lap of the race on lap nine he also closed the gap to the front two riders. Finishing third McManus was just 0.820 seconds from the win and 0.092 seconds from the runner-up spot. It was podium number three for the season for Eugene McManus Junior.
His fastest lap time of 1:40.949 was good enough to see him start race two on Sunday from the front row of the grid in third spot.
McManus lined up on the front row in third place for race two, late afternoon on Sunday. After yesterday’s podium he was feeling confident. That was clearly not misplaced as he tore off the start grid turning into Old Hall Corner in second position.
The front six riders quickly began to pull away from the rest of the field. McManus was fully committed and this was clear to see on lap three. Coming out of Old Hall Bend at the beginning of the lap he rant out of kerb and clipped the grass. The rear tyre twitched widely but there was no let up from the number 15.
On the last corner of lap three he slipped to third as he was passed by a rival at this familiar overtaking spot. However, he quickly recovered second position. The competition was fierce and by the end of the lap he had been relegated to fifth but there was nothing between the riders.
At the halfway point it looked as if McManus was beginning to struggle as he dropped to the back of the leading six. He recovered one position on the seventh lap before setting the fastest lap of the race on lap eight as he closed in on the back wheel of Jack Nixon, the Championship leader in fourth.
On the penultimate lap McManus looked to pass Nixon into turn one but his rival managed to fend him off. McManus then ran wide at island and it looked like he may have missed his chance to improve his track position. However, as the leaders approached the final corner Stanley braked really late and ran wide. Nixon braked late as well and as he went under Stanley he lost the drive out of the final corner. McManus took full advantage as he swept past both of them and into third place as they began the final lap.
McManus rode a faultless final lap to finish third, his second podium of the weekend and his fourth of the season.
The Completely Motorbikes / AffinitySports Academy rider now has 130 points and remains fifth in the overall standings. With four races of the season remaining he is 29 points behind the rider in fourth and 25 over the rider in sixth.
Eugene McManus said, “It has been a fantastic weekend. I love Oulton Park. It’s a really tough track but really rewarding. Thanks to Completely Motorbikes / Affinity Sports Academy for a superb bike. I have felt comfortable all weekend which has enabled me to fight at the front of the races. I cannot wait until Donington next weekend.”