The Completely Motorbikes / Affinity Sports Academy Eugene McManus secured third place in a hard-fought 20-lap race on the Donington National Circuit at the weekend. It was an amazing turnaround of fortunes after crashing out of two of the three races on the Donington GP circuit at the beginning of July. The result sees McManus move into fifth place in the championship on 72 points ahead of the next round at Cadwell Park on 20-22 August.
Eugene McManus was looking to build on his top ten finish at Thruxton and once again challenge for the podium as he had done at the opening round at Oulton Park. The weekend got off to a great start for the number 15 at the Leicestershire circuit. He ended the first free practice session in fourth place which saw the top nine all within a second of each other. In free practice two, he improved one position ending the day third overall.
On Saturday morning forty riders took to the Donington National circuit. Again McManus performed well. He went straight out on new tyres as there was the possibility of rain during the session. With just under a quarter of an hour to go, he had completed 8 laps and was lying fourth overall. A minute later and he was sat on provisional pole with a lap time of 1:10.111.
He then made a routine pit stop before returning to the track with 8m left. The rain held off and having used the best of his tyres he slipped back in the timings. He still managed to finish the session 6th overall and would line up at the end of the second row for the race on Sunday.
Conditions were almost perfect for the 20-lap race. McManus lined up sixth and briefly held fifth in the early exchanges. He was then closed down by Max Cook and Franco Bourne as the laps ticked off.
The race took a dramatic turn of the seventh lap when three of the leading riders went off the circuit. First Verwey lost the front at McLeans in front of Corderoy who ran off into the gravel. Moments later Stanley crashed out at the final chicane.
McManus was now racing for third position and coming under increased pressure from both Max Cook and Franco Bourne. He held off the strong challenge of Cook until lap fourteen. Cook initially looked at Redgate, again at the Old Hairpin and the two were side by side at Starkey’s bridge. By the end of lap McManus was relegated to fourth.
It took until lap 18 for McManus to re-take third spot which he did so with a move at the Roberts chicane. Cook wasn’t finished yet and continued to apply pressure to McManus and Bourne was ready to pounce if an opportunity arose. Despite the pressure, the Randalstown racer made no mistake and managed to secure his second podium of the season.
Eugene McManus said,” It was a good race. I didn’t make up a lot of positions off the line but I later found myself all of a sudden in a decent third place. I fell back to fourth but I stuck in there and recovered third place with two laps to go. For the last two laps, I had to ride sensibly and make no mistakes knowing that he was right on my tail. It was a good race and I really enjoyed it.”
The next round is at Cadwell Park on 20-22 August.