The season opener held around the 2.1 mile Orritor circuit, had changeable conditions ranging from sunshine to hailstones to deal with during Friday’s qualifying sessions but was greeted with blue skies and sunshine for a packed race day schedule on the Saturday.
Her first race of the day was onboard the Bob Wylie Racing Moto3 in the 125/Moto3 race and from 10th place on the grid Maria came through to take a confidence boosting fourth place.
Confusion about controlled laps saw Maria start from a very poor qualifying place of 24th on the grid for the Supersport B race. Undeterred by the grid spot and the lack of track time on the Bob Wylie Racing Triumph 675R, which was still in stock trim, she took a commendable 14th place with a lap time just short of last year’s time, when she was riding the fully tuned BE Racing R6.
Her final race of the day was one she was relishing as she lined up on the grid on her ESM/Hol-Taj backed home built Supertwin. The race was red flagged and thankfully the rider got up and walked away from the incident, but the re-run was only over three laps. Maybe with more time, Maria could have taken second place, but she had to settle for third place and her first podium of the season, behind Michael Dunlop and Derek Costello.
Speaking afterwards a beaming Costello said: “I’m taking away a huge amount of positives from this weekend. Weather conditions were difficult on Friday and that was reflected in my qualifying positions, but come race day I was really pleased with my performance. My injury is for sure in the past. The Supertwin is as fun to ride as ever and the Triumph is a fantastic bike, even in standard trim, so with more modifications she’ll be flying at the NW200 and TT.
My lap times on the Supertwin were close to last year’s and would have put me top ten in the Supertwin A race. The Triumph is currently only in standard trim and still needs work perfecting the suspension. We just haven’t had any testing time to set up the K-tech internals. Thanks go to Arny at Motoshox who gave us a good enough base setting to get 14th place. And with the planned engine development work and addition of a Scorpion exhaust, I am really looking forward to competing on it at the NW200 and TT.
Huge thanks ESM, Hol-Taj & Bob Wylie Racing and to all my sponsors for their continued support and to all who came and helped, especially Kev Corbally, Stuart Parkhill and Richard Freeman and to the Cookstown 100 club, the organisers, marshals and spectators for their warm welcome and amazing support.”
Maria will be back in action at the Vauxhall International North West 200 – 12th – 18th May.