Nikki Coates eager to wrap up Irish Superbike title
Antrim's Nikki Coates currently holds a healthy lead going into the final two rounds of this year's Irish Superbike Championship. Although the former British Supersport and Spanish Moto2 regular is taking nothing for granted, he will be aiming to get his hands on the trophy at the Enniskillen Revival this weekend.
Riding for the Kingsbury Packaging team on Kawasaki machinery in the Irish Superbike and Supersport classes, 27-year-old Coates - whose ISB lead is currently 67 points over closest rival Gerard Kinghan - has enjoyed a full season of local racing, with that coveted Superbike crown his main goal.
"I rode for Gerald (Kingsbury) a few times last year in the Irish Supersport Championship when I was doing Moto2 full-time in Spain, and I really enjoyed it," said Coates - whose Superstock specification ZX10-R Kawasaki has got him in the mood for a return to the British Championship - of his association with Kingsbury's team.
"So when the opportunity came to ride for the team in the Irish Superbike class this season and also on their 600 Kawasaki, it was a challenge I couldn't turn down. I've really enjoyed the experience.
"With four races to go in the Irish Superbike Championship, I want to complete that job, but I've always wanted to ride at the highest level possible - so yes, I'm looking at a return to the British Championship next season."
Coates, who has had six top steps to date this season, but did have a spell on the sidelines which could potentially have cost him the title, added: "I've enjoyed winning races again this season.
"I crashed the Superbike at Mondello Park and knocked myself out. Then because of the seven-day rule I missed the round the following week, which effectively left me with no points for four races. This weekend at St Angelo I want to close out the Championship - that's the goal."
St Angelo Airport will close its doors to host the sixth annual Enniskillen 100 Revival this weekend, which also hosts the penultimate round of the supporting classes.
All the leading protagonists in the Irish Championship will be present, including Jason Lynn, who Coates currently leads by a solitary point in the Ulster Championship Pro Supersport class.
Also worthy of a mention are recent David Wood Memorial winner Aaron Clifford, the 17-year-old County Meath rider, and 13-year-old Scott Swann, who returns after competing last weekend at Assen in the Netherlands.
To conclude, Coates said with a hint of a grin: "I've just driven home from Cork after a day's work to beat BSB star Glenn Irwin at a game of squash."
Irwin will be a big favourite to win on the BeWiser Ducati at the Sunflower Trophy, which is scheduled for October 22.
But Coates said: "Hopefully we can give him and the other BSB guys a run for their money as the newly-crowned ISB champion."