- Jeremy Ryan
Enjoyable World Supersport debut for Eugene McManus
Eugene McManus took part in his first ever round of the World Supersport Championship last weekend finishing in 22nd place in race one. He followed that up with 21st in the second race.
McManus got the opportunity to take part in the Gaerne Estoril Round of the World Supersport Championship as Danny Webb was still recovering from wrist surgery. The 4.2km track is famed for one of the longest straights on the WorldSBK calendar at just under a kilometre. It is also known for its gusting winds making cornering more difficult at times. It was McManus’s debut at World Supersport level and if that wasn’t daunting enough he was with a new team, at a new circuit and on a different motorcycle.
On Friday, Eugene got to meet the Czech WRP Wepol Racing team with whom he would be competing with in the next two World Supersport rounds. In Free practice one he clocked 1:45.843 to finish 24th. During the afternoon he significantly improved his lap time (1:44.589) as he gradually become more confident with the track and Yamaha YZF R6.
Superpole took place just before half past ten on Saturday morning. It was a bright day but the riders had to contend with strong winds. Eugene was making steady progress and decided to come into the pits for some last tweaks to his machinery with around ten minutes of the session remaining. He went on to set his fastest lap of 1:43.350 putting him 25th on the grid. Especially pleasing was the gap between the number 15 of McManus and the front-runners was coming down each time.
The first of the two 18 lap races commenced at 15.15 on Saturday afternoon. Eugene McManus made a steady start. By lap four he was beginning to close in on the Italian rider Luigi Montella. By the end of the sixth lap McManus had got ahead of the Chiodo Moto Racing rider. Although Eugene McManus could not keep the Napoletano behind him Eugene went on to finish in 22nd position. His fastest lap of the race was a 1:43.746.
Starting from 25th McManus lost a couple of places in the first corner but by the end of the lap had regained the lost ground. He initially held off and gapped Kawasaki and Szkopek. However, an error in the first sector on lap fourteen saw both riders able to pass Eugene. Undeterred he got his head down and recovered a 1.4 second gap to catch and pass both riders before the chequered flag. Eugene set his fastest lap of the weekend, a 1:43.177, in this final race.
Eugene McManus said, “If you had told me in June 2019, when I was in King’s College hospital, I would get to ride in a World Supersport race I would not have believed you. I have had an incredible weekend. The team made we feel really welcome from the moment I walked in the garage. I had never ridden the bike or been to the circuit before and they did everything they could to make me as comfortable as possible, so a massive thanks to WRP Wepol Racing.”
“In the first race I was cautious in the opening laps but I completed the 18 laps and got some really valuable track time. I had a good battle with Montella for a good part of the race as well.”
“In the second race I made a small mistake on lap fourteen but managed to recover the positions and was pleased to finish 21st. I can’t thank my sponsors and the team enough, and I am really looking forward to Misano.”