Costello takes Cookstown 100 positives to the Vauxhall International Northwest 200

10th May 2014
Maria Costello MBE kicked off her 2014 road racing campaign with a brace of strong finishes at the Cookstown 100 road races in Northern Ireland.

Costello was returning to the 2.1 mile Cookstown circuit, in County Tyrone, for the fifth time in her career and for the fourth time on her ESM/Hol-Taj Kawasaki ER6 supertwin, prepared by IDP Moto Ltd. It would however be her very first outing on a Hol-Taj Suzuki GSXR600, provided by Team Classic Suzuki, which would see her return to the supersport class for the third time at this event.

The event’s frantic day schedule would give Maria just 5 laps on each bike for combined practice and qualifying. Costello, still getting up to speed with the 600, managed 16th place on the grid for the Supersport B race.

Qualifying for the Supertwin class followed and Costello’s quickest time of 1.39.473 would see her 13th overall, but importantly starting in the A race, alongside the likes of Michael Dunlop, James Cowton and Jamie Hamilton.

Race day arrived along with the rain but conditions improved and racing got underway under clear skies and on dry roads. Maria took to the Supersport grid for her first race of the day. After a strong start, Maria crossed the line at the end of lap 1 in a competitive 16th position. A rider crashed out and Maria and a couple of others had to take avoiding action but undeterred she continued to move up the field and took the chequered flag in 12th place.

Under rain threatening skies, the Supertwin race got underway. Costello, on a bike she originally built herself and now prepared by IDP Moto Ltd, enjoyed the six lap race, crossing the line at the end of lap 1 in 13th position, immediately into the 1.36 bracket. Overall progress through the field was a little slower this time around, benefitting from a Paul Gartland mistake on lap 4 to move up to 12th and moving past a retiring Dan Kneen on the 7th and final lap to take the chequered flag in 11th position, just 0.133 seconds off 10th placed Ian Morrell.

As racing drew to a close, Costello reflected on her achievements: “The Suzuki is so new to me, so I’m still finding my way with it. Having said that my race pace was pretty consistent with my last 3 laps covered by a 10th of a second – not bad considering the quick shifter wasn’t working. But I do really like it and I can’t wait to make further progress with it next time out at the North West 200.”

And what of the Supertwin, a class which Costello thoroughly enjoyed last season?: “After a season of top 10 finishes on the ER6 last year, I’m a little disappointed to only finish 11th this time around, but it’s a very competitive class and lapping four seconds faster than last year is some consolation. I’ve no doubt I can improve as the season progresses. Plus I have a new engine to try thanks to Tony Morris of CMS. Ultimately, it’s great to be back road racing again!”

Next on the agenda for Maria is the Vauxhall International Northwest 200, taking place over the 10th to 17th May. The event, first hosted in 1929, is one of the gems in the Irish road racing season and is held on public roads between the towns of Portstewart, Coleraine and Portrush. With speeds in excess of 200mph, Costello is under no illusions of the challenges that the circuit brings: “The Northwest 200 is a fantastic event. It’s held on really fast roads with a lot of the lap on full throttle, often sat in the slipstream of other bikes, so getting the gearing right is crucial. The weather hasn’t been too kind to the meeting in recent years, but this year will see racing on the Thursday evening, as well as the usual Saturday of racing, so it should be an action packed event.”

In addition to looking forward to the Northwest 200, Costello has also recently announced continued support for cancer awareness charity CoppaFeel! and also a new association with www.tonicwebworks.com, who will take responsibility for maintaining her website: “I’ll be racing the ESM/Hol-Taj Kawasaki ER6 supertwin and Hol-Taj Suzuki GSXR600 again at this meeting, so I’ll once more be racing with CoppaFeel! logos on the bikes. It’s a charity that I feel passionate about and the more I can do to promote breast cancer awareness, the better. I’m also excited to have a new partner to look after my website. Chris from www.tonicwebworks.com will take the pressure off me by ensuring my site is up to date with news and details of my upcoming event












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