THE bragging rights in the Halpin family from Swords are heading in the direction of Joanne as the season draws to a close.
Despite the efforts of her dad Matt, and with the Leinster Championship already in the bag, the runner-up spot in the National is the best that the racing family can hope for, as the winner is already decided, but there is still one round of the championship to go over the October bank holiday weekend. Despite her job as a nurse in Beaumont Hospital taking up some of her racing season, the talented competitor didn't let that stop her pursuing her goal this season, that of riding in Farleigh Castle in England. Right from the start of the season, Joanne has finished in the top three at every meeting that she raced in, and she swapped places with her dad during the season, and at Broadford Joanne took her first win. At the Beehive Grass Track Matt took the overall win, with Joanne taking third overall.
In Portarlington Matt was again the winner, with Joanne third overall, but the decision of Matt not to race at Broadford, where Joanne took her first win, has seen the runnerup position in the championship head Joanne's way. To race at Farleigh Castle has always been Joanne's ambition, and this famous event - held in the 300-acre castle just outside Bath - is the 'Holy Grail' to Grasstrack and Moto X riders. The 'Vets Moto X De Nations' consists of a team event as well as solo classes, and while the event takes place in September, the entries open in early January. From midnight Joanne was on line and had her entries in, and by that evening all entries were full. A total of 680 were received, compared to last year's 550. The Irish teams consisted of the following riders. The Twin Shock Teamm comprised Julian Fair, Mossy Drennan, George Radley and Mike Murphy. The Evo team consisted of Gary O'Sullivan, Hilton Hinks, Ian Edmonds and Rory O'Neill.
In the solo races, Matt Halpin raced in the Over 50s, and in the Pre 85 Joanne competed along with Tom Jenkins and Timmy Matthews, while team manager Andy Brown took part in the 125 class. A strong team of 25 included the 13 riders, and with their entries and ferries sponsored by the YMSA the team left Ireland hopeful of a good weekend. For Joanne her dream came true, and with only three laps of timed practice over the 1.4-mile course she managed to qualify on the front row of the grid. At this event there are two grids, with the second starting 30 seconds after the first grid. There were 40 in the front group and 20 in the second, a very big field. Joanne qualified in 30th place and finished in a creditable 30th place over the two-day event. 'It was my aim to get into the first group, and this I did, and I was delighted with my qualifying and racing. 'It was a marvellous experience. The days were long, with practicing and racing starting at 8am, finishing at 6pm, with the big presentation taking place on Sunday evening,' said Joanne.
There were three races over the two days for the 10 classes, and for Matt he finished in an excellent 25th overall, which was much better than last year. The teams also did well, with the Twin Shock finishing in 10th place - one down on last year - with the Evos finishing 12th. In this class there were 16 very strong teams, with team USA comprising of a former world champion, and they took the win. 'It was a very entertaining weekend, and one that we all enjoyed, and a very well run event considering that there were so many entries. 'I would like to thank the YSMA, as well as Leinster and Munster branches for all their help and support,' said a very happy Matt Halpin.