THERE was a brand new name on the Ian Watson Spring Cup as Maidstone’s Steve Mercer took the title away from defending champion Ryan Farquhar at Oliver’s Mount yesterday.
On a sunny but cold spring day, Farquhar was the firm favourite to win the race after notching up victories 92 and 93 before the big one.
But things did not go right for the man from Dungannon, Ireland, as he had to pull out of the contest after the first lap due to problems with his Kawasaki 1000 ZX10, much to his frustration.
Mercer was on top form from the starting flag and was in pole position after lap one and the fact that Farquhar pulled out must have given him a huge lift.
Mercer, on his Honda CBR 1000, stayed in front for the full six laps, but was pushed all the way by runner-up Ian Archibald on his ZX10 1000.
At the finish there was not a lot between the two with Mercer just taking it, but many of the watching fans were disappointed that Farquhar had to withdraw, as they had been enjoying watching his displays.
Farquhar was hoping to defend all his major road race titles at the Mount this year.
But the day belonged to Mercer and he was overjoyed with the result.
He said: “It is always hard here at Oliver’s Mount but I came away with the trophy and I am delighted.
“You can never tell what is going to happen on such a difficult track and you have to respect it because it is tough.
“Ryan is a brilliant performer here and it is a shame he had to pull out but I had to take my opportunity.”
Race Media Co-ordinator Phil Edge said: “Cold but bright conditions greeted competitors, officials and fans at the opening road race of the 2012 season at the Mount for the Ian Watson Spring National.
“There was some disappointment in the non appearance of Michael Dunlop, due to his grandmother May Dunlop being seriously ill at home in Ballymoney.
“But overall it was a great occasion once again at the Mount.”
Fans turned up despite the chilled conditions and one of them, 15-year-old Brad Vickers, said: “I enjoy coming here to watch the racing and I was actually here last year to watch my dad Neil compete in the Barry Sheene Classic event.
“There is a great atmosphere here and all the fans enjoy it because of the track.”
Ian Watson Cup final results: 1st: Steve Mercer 11:09.622, 2nd: Adrian Archibald 11:09.926, 3rd: Keith Pringle 11:21.529.