The forecast ahead of the Mid Antrim 150 didn’t make for pretty reading, with two days of torrential rain forecast.
However, when Rhys Hardisty of RH Racing alighted from the ferry as it docked on the the Thursday he was greeted by glorious sunshine, although by early Friday morning that had quickly changed to rain.
By 10am on the Friday the paddock had already turned into a complete mudbath, with riders having to push their bikes through ankle deep mud just to get to the starting line. With conditions so difficult, it was a miracle that organisers were able to squeeze in all the necessary practice sessions along with a race on day one – although Rhys’s 250/400 Lightweight race was postponed.
Riding his Conti shod Yamaha TZ250 backed by R.E.P.S Motorcycles, Rhys was flying during qualifying. Running in 2nd place, his air intake detached itself and jammed itself between the brake lever and throttle. Not wanting to add the cost of a new intake to his bill, Rhys carried on but slipped back to 4th place.
In the second qualifying session for the Moto 3/2-stroke race Rhys set the fastest time which he held on to until late in the session, when he was eventually pushed back to 2nd place. In The Supertwin class, Rhys was offered a last minute ride by McKinstry Racing with his own bike still under development, and qualified in 8th place.
The weather on Saturday did little to help the situation, with the circuit looking more like something you’d see at a dirt bike rally than a road race, but organisers once again did a superb job to get things started, with each race shortened by a single lap.
Running his TZ250 on wets in the first race, Rhys used his favoured Continental on the front, but with no wet available for the rear he had to fit an alternative brand. Getting off to a flying start he took the lead until he was passed by Paul Robsinson on slicks in lap 3, followed by Neil Kernohan. Oil on the track saw the race red flagged with results based on last lap positions, and Rhys came home in 3rd. Rhys commented that “the Continental front wet gave me loads of confidence in the conditions with lots of feel but the Bridgestone rear did not cope with the changing conditions.”
Dry lines had started to appear during the opening race, with Rhys deciding to switch to the treaded ContiRaceAttack Comp for the Moto 3/2-stroke race, which he says coped really well with the dry and greasy parts of the circuit. Another good start saw Rhys shoot out into the lead, with Paul Robinson starting to reel him in as the race wore on. The pair fought hard for the lead, but Rhys held his nerve to take a well deserved win on the Yamaha.
The final race of the meeting for Rhys saw him head out on the McKinstry Racing ER650. Rhys opted to stay on the dry weather tyres, but as the start loomed the weather closed in and rain began to fall, but by then they’d left it too late to fit wet race rubber. After the sighting laps, the few riders on dry tyres ahd started to pull in, leaving Rhys against a grid all running on full wets. Another good start saw him move up to 2nd, but as the race wore on it was clear that those on wets had a real advantage on the wet and greasy track, and Rhys ended the race in 8th, but glad to have stayed out very much against the odds.
This year Rhys will also be returning to the Tandragee 100 where he won best newcomer in 2015, whilst also debuting at the Southern 100 and other meetings.
You can keep up to date with his season via the RH Racing Facebook page.
View our latest race tyre range here.