HE turned more than a few heads when he beat Jonny Towers and the rest of the Supertwin big-hitters at Thundersport GB just over a week ago, so just who is this new kid on the block?
The name Eunan McGlinchey may be very new in England’s club racing circles, but on the Irish scene it’s one which has been bandied about a lot over the last 12 months.
The 19-year-old from Aghadowey in Northern Ireland has made quite a name for himself since he first lined up on the grid at Bishopscourt last June on his production twin as he made his Tarmac debut after several years in motocross.
“I started racing motocross when I was nine, and worked my way up over the years though different sizes of bikes,” he explained.
“But I sustained loads of injuries over the years – two broken legs, collarbone, wrists, thumb – and in the end I decided enough was enough. I’d always wanted to move to Tarmac eventually anyway, so when I got my last injury it just made it easier to make the move.”
The move was made, and on June 18 last year he headed out to make his racing debut on a bike he’d only bought three weeks earlier. With no experience or any real expectations on what he could achieve, the teenager managed two ninth place finishes.
As his confidence improved so did the results, and despite missing some of the earlier rounds of the season, the wins soon came and he ended the year second in the Irish championship.
Over the winter his grandad bought him a Suzuki 600 and he decided to enter the Supersport series as well as having another stab at the Production Twins in the Irish championship.
He became was the first rider to win a nomination for this year’s Masters Superbike Championship Young Racer of the Year award after a dazzling display at Mondello Park where he took Production class wins and beat the faster Supertwin machines on the way to setting a new Production class lap record, and he now holds stock twin lap records at all of the Irish tracks.
Having made such a splash in Ireland, the teenager was keen to test his mettle in some of the English races to see how he fared on new tracks and against a new bunch of rivals.
“We did a fundraiser in April, and after gathering a few pounds, we decided it would be a great experience to take part in a few of the Thundersport GB rounds, although we had to see which ones didn’t clash with the championship rounds here,” he said.
He made his Thundersport debut at Snetterton at the end of April, bringing just the 600.
“I didn’t enter the Supertwins because we had to budget with fees and tyres, and wanted to concentrate on the Suzuki. But it was probably one of the slowest on the grid and since it was just my third time racing it, it was just mainly for experience.
“I came home happy enough with the lap times, knowing the bike wasn’t up to speed, and I had a better idea of how the Thundersport GB series ran.”
Clearly impressed, he returned to the series just over a week ago as it arrived at Cadwell Park for its fourth round – this time with his twin in tow, too.
“The rules here in Northern Ireland allow up to 76bhp for the production twins and we knew that in Thundersport the bhp was slightly lower at 72. I know my bike has been dynoed at 75.0 so we had to enter the Supertwin class.
“I didn’t mind as I like a challenge, but I didn’t really think for a second I would be anywhere near the top riders in the Supertwin class.”
After qualifying ninth, McGlinchey took two thirds in the opening two races, before taking an impressive victory in a wet and foggy race on Monday morning.
Unfortunately, he had to pull in from the final race when mechanical problems hit as he was running in second place.
Now back on home turf, his focus is back on the Irish championships, but he admits he is keen to come back to tackle at least one more Thundersport GB round before the end of the year.
“It’s been a great experience and I had such a great time at Cadwell Park, so I am keen to come back soon. At the moment I’m looking at coming across for the Oulton Park round in September, depending on how much of the budget we’ve got left.”
*Main and action images: Colin Port
*Eunan McGlinchey headshot: Baylon McCaughey