Belfast Telegraph

Seeley ready for Easton charge

By ROY HARRIS

Returning to the calendar following a year's absence, the prestigious Sunflower Trophy meeting at Bishopscourt Race Track tomorrow will be graced by three newly crowned British champions -- Stuart Easton (Supersport), Luke Hedger (Superstock 600) and Tim Reeves (sidecar).

The exciting prospect of Supersport runner-up Alastair Seeley (Gearlink Kawasaki) and Easton (Mar-Train Yamaha) renewing their season long rivalry should be well worth the admission fee alone.

Both men are set to lock horns in not only the two Supersport races, but also in the Superbike and feature Jim Finlay-sponsored Sunflower races.

Seeley, who rides his normal Gearlink Kawasaki in the Supersport races, board the MSS prepared Tsingtao Beer sponsored Kawasaki for team owner Dave Tyson in the Superbike events while Easton will have the Mar-Train R1 Yamaha he rode at the North West 200 for the 'big bike' races.

The Carrickfergus rider said: "The British championship is done and dusted now and Stuart won it. This weekend will be like an extended round of the British series where I hope to come out on top.

"The Sunflower Trophy is one of the main local races I have never won, maybe I can put that right on Saturday although there are a few riders in the field well capable of lifting the trophy.

"I'm still looking at next season and in negotiations with a few teams as far as that goes, so a good result this weekend would help in those talks."

The promoting Hillsborough Club aim to showcase the local racing scene and to see top British BSB teams grace this final Irish short circuit championship meeting of the season certainly adds to the prospect of fantastic action.

Unfortunately it looks as though the Moneymore-based Tyco Suzuki Team will not have a presence at the Sunflower, a meeting they have had considerable success at in the past.

Another absent team will be PBM Motorsport who, despite agreeing terms with the promoters, have been unable to fit the meeting into their itinerary.

However joining the BSB regulars who will be in attendance will be a host of local talent led by Marshall Neill riding the Wilson Craig Honda's, David Haire, Nico Mawhinney -- who can clinch the Irish Superbike series tomorrow -- Carl Phillips and Irish sidecar champion Terry O'Reilly.

Incidentally it is worth noting that new World Superbike Champion Tom Sykes won six races in three years at the Sunflower meeting when he rode for the TAS Suzuki squad.

An international flavour to the Sunflower will see top AMA Pro Daytona Sportbike championship contender Dane Westby make his Irish debut riding a machine supplied by local rider Timothy Elwood.

Westby from Tulsa, Oklahoma finished runner-up in this highly competitive class in 2012 and riding a Geico Honda was sixth in the season just finished.

Westby is joined in the Supersport events by fellow American Patrica Fernandez while Canadian Stacey Nesbitt will battle in the Moto3 events and South African James Egan goes in the Superbike races following a successful season in the British Superstock series.

A healthy line up of sidecars is led by Reeves a TT winner, former world champion and now British champion who is locally based in Dundrod and a past winner at the Sunflower.

He will be strongly challenged by Sean Heggarty, O'Reilly, local British contender John Clarke, Dan Knight and Dylan Lynch. There will be three races this afternoon following practice and qualifying with the main race programme tomorrow scheduled for a 10.30am start.

The Sunflower Trophy Race has a rich history since it was first won by Joey Dunlop at Aghadowey in 1977 with Michael Laverty the all-time most successful rider having won the race on six occasions between 2002 and 2010.

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