Randalstown’s James McManus set a new Donington Park National Circuit lap record on his way to a second-place finish in race two. In race one he had finished just off the podium in fourth place. The results this weekend are a huge turnaround of luck after the misfortune of three DNFs out of four races he suffered when they raced on the Donington GP circuit at the beginning of July. He is now ninth in the championship on 59 points.
Free and qualifying Practice
The weekend started in a positive fashion with James finishing the free practice session in fourth overall with a lap time of 1:18,929. In the qualifying session he managed to reduce his lap time to 1:18.295 to again finish fourth quickest but in doing so had cut the gap to the fastest rider.
It took three attempts to get the first Junior Supersport race underway on the Donington National circuit. An unfortunate coming together of two riders on the starting grid caused the original 15-lap race to be red-flagged. Then on the first lap of the shortened 11-lap re-run, the rain began to fall and the riders were called back to the pits for a second time.
When the riders lined up for the third time the race had been reduced to a sprint race of 12 laps. McManus started well tipping into Redgate on the first lap in third position.
The leading two riders managed to quickly open a gap at the front of the race with McManus leading a train of eight riders battling for third position. On lap four McManus was pushed wide and off the track at the final chicane and fell four places to seventh.
The teenager is not averse to hard work and put in a gutsy performance to try and regain the lost ground. Within a few corners of the new lap, he had claimed back one position before accelerating hard out of the final chicane this time round to overtake two more riders and move into fourth spot. By the end of lap six, he had returned to third.
Positions continued to change frequently. Just as one rider got to the front of the group they fell back and another took over. By the end of lap seven, McManus was back down in seventh so competitive was the racing.
McManus battled on and was fifth again by the end of lap ten and finally crossed the line fourth at the flag in an exhausting race to watch let alone compete in.
James McManus’s start to race two was even better than race one as he took the holeshot launching from third on the grid. The leaders were made up of a group of six riders early on including Completely Motorbikes / Affinity Sports Academy teammate Kam Dixon.
By the end of the third lap, the leading group had reduced to four riders with Dixon leading McManus, Dawson and Barnes. With the bikes so similar in performance the lead changed regularly with McManus falling back to fourth and then working his way back to the front again on several occasions.
Late in the race, Dawson had managed to make a gap at the front leaving three riders fighting for the last two podium spots. In his desire to gain positions James McManus broke the lap record with a 1:17.107 on lap 12 as he slipped back up to second place. Despite pressure from both Ash Barnes and Kam Dixon, James McManus held them through the final chicane to take second position and his first podium finish of the season.
James said, “It’s been a good weekend. I have been there or thereabouts all weekend. In race one I got caught up in the battle and the front two riders got away. I then fell to the back of the group and had to work hard to get near the front again. Today I got a good start and it worked out really well for me. I wanted to try and lead to stay out of trouble, to be honest, and that obvious grows your confidence as well. So yeah a really good weekend. Thanks to the team Completely Motorbikes / Affinity Sports Academy for giving me a great bike to race and all my sponsors including MMB Surfacing and MV Commercial.”
James’s next action in the Hel Performance British Junior Supersport Championship will be at Snetterton from the 3rd to 5th September.