Tandragee 100: William Dunlop is looking for Superbike glory
The 55th Around-A-Pound Tandragee 100, which gets under way this afternoon, has received an eleventh hour boost, with news that Tyco BMW team manager Philip Neill secured a late entry for Ballymoney's William Dunlop.
Dunlop, already entered on the CD/IC Racing R6 Yamaha, will now have his BMW Motorrad S1000RR Superstock machine to ride in the Superbike races, adding extra spice to an already mouthwatering line-up that includes KMR/SGS International Kawasaki's Ryan Farquhar and RigDeluge BMW's Keith Amor.
Dunlop wasn't overly happy with his performance on the Tyco BMW at last weekend's KDM Hire Cookstown 100, despite taking fourth in the feature race, and will be looking to Tandragee to help boost confidence on the German machinery, prior to the Vauxhall International North West 200.
"I'm a bit low on mileage on the Tyco BMW and after wasting a qualifying session at Cookstown, the first race was also a waste of time for me," said Dunlop, who admitted that a set-up change initiated by team manager Neill for race two at Orritor, now has him pointing in the right direction.
"The second race was a lot better for me after finally listening to Philip," joked Dunlop, who was a double Supersport winner at Cookstown.
"Tandragee will be beneficial in terms of information and set-up as there are parts of it that replicates the TT, but we will see how we go."
With brother Michael not listed in the event programme, I asked William who he felt would be his main rivals around the fast and technical 5.34-mile Tandragee 100 circuit.
"Micky is virtually unbeatable at Tandragee," he said of his brother, but added: "Farquhar is very good around there also and he could take some beating despite not having ridden a big bike for a few years.
"Keith (Amor) will also be very fast and I can see it being tougher than Cookstown to get a result."
Dunlop will start strong favourite in tomorrow's six lap Supersport race, following his double at Cookstown, but Amor and BE Racing's Jamie Hamilton - both Honda mounted - should keep the Ballymoney man on his toes.
Roads close today at 3pm for practice with nine sessions scheduled. Roads then close tomorrow at 10am, with the Richard Britton Tribute Laps and a display lap from Farquhar and Jeremy McWilliams, on board their Island Classic winning F1 Yamahas, packing out an already impressive eight-race programme.
The third round of the British Superbike Championship gets under way in Cheshire tomorrow with the opening practice sessions for the May Day Bank Holiday meeting on Monday. Leading Ulsterman in the series is Fermanagh's Josh Elliott, who tops the Pirelli National Superstock 1000cc Championship after a victory last time out at Brands Hatch.
Toomebridge's Eugene Laverty is also in action this weekend, as the MotoGP series makes its way back to Europe for round four at Jerez in Spain. After races in Qatar, America and Argentina with Aspar Honda, the series rookie will get the chance to shine at Jerez, one of his favourite tracks.