In a series of articles, Donal Arnold provides a candid, fly on the wall perspective of the returning West Cork Motorcycle Club drag race.
Part three of Donal’s thorough reflection on an event which mixes Santa Pod style racing with pure road racing spirit, reads as follows:
The first semi-final in Class B saw William Roberts beat Ian Lynch and on the opposite side of the draw Club-man Conor McCarthy pipped Ben Mullane by 6 hundredths of a second. Garry Keohane rolled back the years by clinching the first space in the Class C final with Richard Murphy beating Ray O’Brien.
Class CA was led early on by Jack Kelly and Jack Dynan and Kelly got the nod in their semi-final pairing. Liam Wainwright beat Darren Duggan despite a slower reaction time.
The Finals loomed, 8 pairings, 1 quarter mile strip of the N71 and the title of Ireland’s only drag race champion for 2022. Conor McCarthy came up against William Roberts in the first all Cork Final.
Roberts narrowly got off the line first but McCarthy rallied to save his fastest time of the day for when it mattered most and crossed the line in 11.576 seconds, equating mph wise to over 125 mph. In Class C another local legend Garry Keohane was aiming to secure back-to-back titles as he lined up against Richard Murphy on his R6.
But Murphy had other plans and as he led off the line, he finished the quarter mile as the only 600 under 11s on the day thus securing the title from Gary. The CA or Pre-Injection class was a close-run affair all day and the only noticeable absentee was Mark Culleton after his spill in qualifying.
It came down to a battle of Yamaha YFZ R6’s and Jack Kelly took the spoils from Liam Wainwright. Adrian O’Driscoll and Brian Murray would meet in the Class D finale and these 2 had been on the pipe since first practice.
O’Driscoll was also out to retain his 2019 title on the ZX6R (Kawasaki), however the Aprilla RSV of Murray would prove a bridge too far in the final, winning by almost 0.5s at the flag. The first Class-E final for bikes before 1999 was decided between Mark Quilligan and Stephen Murphy.
Stephen Murphy picked up the fastest reaction time of the day in his last 4 battle with ‘Snidge’ Rigney and continued that form to take the victory from Quilligan. EA’s were up next and the iconic yellow Arai lid meant Ollie Leahy was in great form consistently topping the times from Qualifying.
On the other side of the white line ‘Basher’ Healy had gotten a fantastic reaction out the gate but Leahy’s 1984 GSXR broke the beam in 11.349s to retain his 2019 title.
There was bumper entry in F as Kieran Kelly was looking to make it an unprecedented 5 in a row on his 1000cc GSXR (Suzuki). From the last 16 pairings there was next to nothing to separate the riders on either side of the white line and Stefan Georgiev came through to take on Kelly in the battle of the Suzuki machinery.
Both finalists had been pushed closed most notably in their respective quarter finals where Georgiev had pipped Danny McNamara by 0.03 of a second and Kelly on the other hand dipped under 10s to beat off Stephen Duffy on his Fireblade.
Despite relocating from Bulgaria when he heard about the WCMCC drag race his best run was just shy of what Kelly had on offer and Kelly (Kieran) justified the favourite’s tag recording a time of 10.028 to give us the closest final of the day by 0.038s from Georgiev.
The one we had all been waiting for was finally upon us. The Carey Family Sponsored G Class final saw the Club’s very own Kieran O’Driscoll take on the renowned drag racer and tuner Jarrod Frost in the big one.
In my best effort to keep things running smoothly on the grid, all became un-done as both bikes lined up on the same side of the track for the finale! Never fear though as it presented the riders one chance for a few quick words with John before a coin-toss meant Frost would take the left-hand lane for the showpiece.
Both men put some rubber down to get tyres up to race pace and crept towards the gates for the big one. Frost who is responsible for the preparation of so many world record breaking bikes as well as drag racing records wouldn’t have it all his own way as the younger of the O’Driscoll brothers was ready to bring the fight to frost.
Jarrod’s (Frost) form in the run up to the final would tell the tale of the final as he was hitting the quarter mile flag on average at less than 9 seconds were as O’Driscoll would need something very special to improve on his 9.5s average.
The Bomber League stealth GSXR (Suzuki) pitted against the 1300cc Hayabusa (Suzuki) would ultimately be a bridge too far for the black beauty as Frost would get the hole-shot and power down towards Ballinhassig in a time of 8.847s and in excess of 190mph making it his second fastest time of the day having beaten Adrian Dorgan in the semi-final in a blistering 8.769s.
Kieran (O’Driscoll) would finish in a very respectable 9.734s but there was no denying Frost the victory. As the finalists returned to the start-line under the marshals it was impossible to miss the smile on Frost’s face behind his lid as he was greeted by the supporters, fans and most notably his right-hand man and son Benji.
And just like that, the intervening 3 years were gone since the last drag race in 2019 and everything in between was forgotten about just for a few hours as we breathed in a collective breath of smoke from the freshly burned rubber of the Class finalists.
Those that were on hand all week putting the finishing touches on the WCMCC drag race deserve a medal having gotten the show back on the road but like a lot of us in the paddock, on the grid, at the start-line we do it because we simply love motorcycle racing in all its forms and I for one can’t wait for 2023 already.
Photo credit: John Burke Photography
Words by Donal Arnold