- Jeremy Ryan
Race two revival for James
James McManus showed his true character fighting back from being taken out in race one to making up a huge 18 places in race two to finish 12th in the final Junior Supersport race of the 2021 British Superbike season.
The weekend had started really well for the rider from Randalstown. He topped free practice before qualifying 8th for the first race. On just the second corner of race one, he was taken out by another rider which not only finished his race early but left him 30th on the grid for race 2. He made an amazing start to the second race gaining 15 places in the early laps to finish 12th at the flag. McManus ends the season 8th overall and with a total of 99 points.
The weekend’s racing got underway for the HEL Performance British Junior Supersport riders at lunchtime on Friday. James McManus made a superb start as he clocked the fastest lap time in the only free practice session this category of riders are granted. He recorded a late flying lap of 1:45.248 which was over half a second clear of the rest of the field.
The qualifying session on Saturday morning proved a more difficult challenge for the rider from Randalstown. In a competitive field, he was soon up into the top five lap times. After coming to and leaving the pits with 4 minutes remaining he had slipped to 9th on the timesheets. Despite putting in two much quicker lap times at the end of the session this only elevated him to 8th on the grid.
The team made some changes to the bike set-up for the first race of the weekend. McManus started 8th on the grid. The Completely Motorbikes /Affinity Academy rider was not too concerned as he has proved all season his ability to get away from the starting grid. So it proved in race one. He surged up several places into Paddock Hill Bend and heading on down towards turn two, Druids. After a rider behind was hit by another competitor, his machine then took out McManus at just the second corner of the 10 lap race. The luckless McManus has been taken out on numerous occasions this season. Failing to even complete a lap would seriously affect McManus’s racing weekend.
Due to incidents earlier in the day the second race was reduced from ten laps to eight.
The result of having been knocked off in race one meant he had not recorded a lap time. As lap times are used to calculate the grid for the following race James McManus was forced to start from 30th position.
It didn’t take long, however, for the pace of McManus to show through. He made up a huge 15 places on the opening lap as he blasted through the field from almost the back of the grid.
By the end of lap four, he was running fourteenth. He was then able to improve further just a lap later setting his fastest lap of the race up until that point.
Despite continuing to increase his pace the gap to the group of riders ahead was just too much and he ended the race with a superb 12th place and a fastest lap on 1:41.985.
James McManus said, “Race two was a lot of fun but really we wanted to be battling at the font of the race. We seem to have had quite a lot of bad luck this year with being hit by other riders over the season. I don’t want to sound too negative because that is not me. These things happen in racing and next year we will come back stronger and hopefully it will be our turn for better luck. We have been on the pace or thereabouts all year and with a bit more fortune the results would be very different. This leaves me feeling really positive for 2022. I just want to finish by saying a big thank you to everyone involed in helping me; Completely Motorbikes, Affinity Sports Academy and all the staff, Michael King, Jamie Roche, the Haslam family, John Laverty, Paul Thompson and Must Have Media Services.”