Team Appleyard Macadam enjoy their first outing of 2016

For the first outing of the new season Team Appleyard Macadam Racing, backed by Integro Insurance Brokers featured two new riders. Both showed great signs of what to expect in the coming year despite leaving Silverstone with nothing to show for their efforts. Andrew Irwin lead both British Supersport races across the weekend, with the first ending early due to bad weather and the second after a faulty sensor led to a collision and a blown rear tyre. Meanwhile his teammate and fellow Irishman Kevin Keyes also made steady progress during his National Superstock 600 debut.

Friday was a troublesome day for all the Supersport teams after the first session was scrapped due to a heavy oil spillage and the second stopped early due to another red flag. With so little track time it was inevitable that Saturday’s qualifying would become a bit of a lottery. Friday also saw the first qualifying session for the Superstock 600 machines and the inclement weather allowed Keyes to provisionally hold seventh place on the grid. 

British Supersport qualifying on Saturday morning again saw poor weather conditions but as the rain eased so the track dried out as the session wore on. This all but meant the last man to see the chequered flag had the best chance of pole position. After a couple of lengthy stops in the pit lane to adjust the setup of his Yamaha R6, Irwin went out and jumped up to fourth place with his last flying lap. However, due to the nature of the drying track he eventually had to settle for eighth place for the afternoon’s sprint race.

For Keyes Saturday’s qualifying session was held in far better conditions than Friday, which meant, unfortunately, he couldn’t hold on to his seventh place. He did, however, improve on his best lap from the test by over one and a half seconds and secured a place on the eighth row of the grid. 

Saturday evening’s Supersport sprint race saw the return of the bad weather, with a shower just before the start causing chaos once the race got underway. The shower was light meaning the track was dry in most areas. Irwin made a magnificent start from the third row and quickly became involved in a scrap with the front runners before eventually taking the lead. 

Four fallers on the first lap and another shower meant the red flag was brought out with Irwin lying in second place. From the restart Irwin again jumped to the front of the pack as the challengers around him began to fall. A second red flag was brought out and when four riders, including Irwin, crashed on the warm up lap of the restart, the race was cancelled.

Sunday saw the first race of the season for both Keyes and Irwin, with 18 year old Keyes being first up. A strong start saw him just outside the top twenty but as the race progressed he dropped back slightly, before settling into a rhythm and posting his fastest lap of the weekend. He eventually crossed the line pointless in 27th place.  It was the youngster’s first Superstock 600 race and a lot was learnt, not just by the rider himself but also by the team.

In the main British Supersport race of the weekend Irwin once again got a superb start, rolling around the outside of rows one and two to settle into second place. He then ducked under the inside of the race leader to take control on the first lap. 

An enthralling battle for the lead followed before disaster struck. A bank angle sensor, designed to cut the engine when the bike is laid on its side, faltered and caused the engine to cut out. James Westmoreland, in Irwin’s slipstream, then hit the rear wheel of Irwin and caused a rear tyre blow out, ending his race prematurely.

Although disappointed Andrew Irwin was in an optimistic mood after the race. He said: 

“The weekend was positive. I might not have finished the race but I can take the experience of leading a Supersport race to Oulton Park. There is no doubt I need to improve and the set up of the bike needs looking at. It was unfortunate that we had the electrical problem. It wasn’t anybody's fault and just one of those things that happen in racing. I can't thank the whole team enough for their hard work. I’m excited for the year ahead and looking for it to really start with two results next time out.”

After his race Kevin Keyes commented:

“I really enjoyed my first weekend on the Appleyard Macadam Yamaha. I learned a lot about the bike and myself, especially during the race. I found out I need to be a lot more aggressive on lap one but it’s all looking good, as every time I sit on the bike I get faster. The goal going forward is getting some points on the board, so that’s my target at Oulton.”

The next meeting is at Oulton Park on the weekend of 30th April to 2nd May