Maria arrived at the 7.4 mile Dundrod circuit earlier in the week in a confident mood, equipped with her ESM/Hol-Taj backed Kawasaki ER6 Pizza Race Bike. Qualifying went to plan with Maria recording the 15th fastest time in a field of 46 bikes, however time on the bike was restricted with the cancellation of Thursday’s races, due to excessive rain:
“Having just the one bike to ride here at the Ulster means track time is limited. With Thursday’s races cancelled that reduced set-up time, but the race organisers made the right call as torrential rain left standing water on the track. Now I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can turn my pleasing qualifying result into a solid race result on Saturday.” reflected Costello.
Saturday arrived looking rather grey and dreary, however the rain clouds were cleared by some strong winds, leaving a virtually dry track by the time Maria took to the grid for the start of the lightweight race. Maria got away cleanly however the race was short-lived, being red flagged following an incident, meaning that all riders had to return to the grid to await a restart. Pleasingly, no riders had been injured.
The race was eventually restarted over a shortened race distance of 3 laps and Maria once more got off the line well, however finding a neutral at Leathemstown corner on lap one, resulted in her losing a lot of ground on the run up to Deer’s Leap. Maria was then stuck behind Derek Costello (no relation) and it took a great pass into Leathemstown next time around, to get past Derek and allow Maria to chase down the bikes ahead. Maria was now able to set a faster lap time than the bikes immediately ahead, however with the shortened race distance, time was against her and Maria took the chequered flag in an excellent 9th position:
“What a fantastic race! I would have loved it to have gone the original 5 lap distance as I was closing on those in front, but I’m delighted to have taken 9th place.” commented a beaming Costello.
“The bike handled perfectly. The Wilbers suspension and Dymag wheels worked really well together, giving me plenty of confidence to push on once I got a clear lap. I’ve found myself in a few battles with Derek this season but it felt good to make that pass and chase down the bikes ahead.”
“We managed to run the race in dry conditions, which had looked doubtful earlier in the day and I’ve continued my run of top ten finishes, so I’m able to take a lot away from this race meeting and can look forward to the final Irish road race of the season at Killalane.” concluded Maria.