A local rider has come home with the silverware after making his mark at the first round of the Irish road racing season.
James Cowton, of Kilham, mixed it with the establishment at his first appearance at the Cookstown 100 round last weekend.
Despite illness earlier in the week he qualified in the fastest group for the Supersport race on his Honda 600 and in his second race of the day he took a podium place after finishing a whisker behind Michael Dunlop from the famous road racing dynasty.
Cowton recorded an average lap time of 1min 29secs and an average lap speed of 84.7mph around the two-mile circuit in County Tyrone.
He told the Free Press he was disappointed with his showing in the first race but put it down to lack of experience at the challenging track and illness.
He qualified at the back of the fastest group of riders and managed to gain five places - finishing 15th after starting 20th on the grid.
Cowton said: “I don’t know what I woke up with on the Thursday but had a banging headache and sore throat but seemed to perk up. I had watched a few on board laps and drove around in a van and then a car but it’s not like when you get on the bike and learn where all the bumps and your lines are.
“I was disappointed with that race but put it down to not much track time. I wanted to be in the top 10 really but kept making daft mistakes because I kept trying to push on.”
However, he seemed to find his way around for the penultimate race of the day.
For the seven-lap Supertwin race, taking out his Kawasaki 650, Cowton was hot on the heels of Dunlop, who is no stranger to the Cookstown circuit, and ended up being one tenth of a second off getting the fastest lap of the race.
He added: “On my 600 I messed up in the first corner and on the 650 I wasn’t going to do it again. I was leading the pack out of the first corner but three came past and held me up.
“Michael got the break but after that I started gaining on him. I don’t know how hard he was pushing but to finish second to him is still a fair achievement.”
Cowton will be in action at the North West 200 in Ireland later this month and later in the year at the ultimate of road races, the Isle of Man TT.
Also celebrating a successful outing in Ireland was James Neesom from Hunmanby who won one of the four races he took part in.