Ace Josh Elliott aiming to blossom at Sunflower Trophy
British Superstock 1000cc champion Josh Elliott is ready to take the fight to reigning champion Danny Buchan at this weekend's Sunflower Trophy Races at Bishopscourt - in the hope that it brings recognition from some of the leading British Superbike teams.
The Ballinamallard ace will set his friendship with the lofty Essex racer aside on Saturday, as both men aim to outshine a strong field, topped by Tyco BMW mounted Alastair Seeley, whom Elliott out-gunned to this season's Stock 1000 title.
The 21-year-old will bring his Morello Racing ZX-10R Kawasaki to Bishopscourt for the Sunflower event, and having taken five wins and 11 podiums from the 12 races this season in British championship, the quiet lad from Fermanagh could well add his name to the illustrious list of winners on Saturday.
"Well that's the plan," said the modest but confident young racer who has aspirations of stepping up to the British Superbike class in 2016. "Danny [Buchan] is the reigning Sunflower champion and has proved his worth in BSB this year after stepping up as last year's Superstock 1000 champion. I'd love the same opportunity."
"There are some good names on the entry list and I'd love to pick up the Sunflower Trophy to add to a great season," he explained, referring to the Hillsborough & District Club's strong entry for the end of season showpiece.
Tyco BMW mounted Seeley will, at the very least, be looking get one over on his local rival, having lost out to young Elliott by over 50 points in this season's British series. The Carrick racer is an obvious crowd-puller, having won two British titles and 15 North West 200 races, but there are others that also stand out.
Clogher's Keith Farmer, a near neighbour of Elliott, will join him in the Morello Racing team for the Sunflower, but with the added advantage of securing a ZX-10R Superbike for the event.
Unperturbed, Elliott said: "Keith's Superbike has the potential of being as good as the ZX-10R that Buchan will be racing, but I'm happy enough to be on my Superstock machine. We will run slick tyres to narrow that advantage and I'm confident wet or dry we have the set-up to challenge."
Confident words from the youngster, who is also well aware, that Portadown's Marshall Neill on a Wilson Craig Honda Superbike and Glenn Irwin on a Gearlink Kawasaki, could also be a handful.
"Marshall always races to win and although Glenn is on a 600, I think if it's wet he could really be in the mix," he said.
"I think the 1000cc bikes should have the legs on him if it's dry, which I hope is the case as it's best for everyone with bigger crowds guaranteed to attend."
Local businessman Jim Finlay is again the main event sponsor at the Sunflower for the 38th year and with the smaller classes boasting top quality riders like William Dunlop on the Joey's Bar 125cc Honda, it promises to be a great day's racing.
Glenn Irwin, who recently secured a deal, to ride for Paul Bird's all-new BeWiser Ducati team, alongside four-time BSB champion Shane Byrne in 2016, will be the star attraction in the Supersport races.
Gearlink Kawasaki mounted, Irwin's main threat will come from British championship team-mate Ben Wilson and former champion Alastair Seeley who is expected to line-up on Hector Neill's TAS Racing 600 Suzuki.
Others local aces worth a mention and competing in various classes are David Haire, Ryan Rainey, Carl Phillips, Robert English and British Motocross star Graeme Irwin, who will make his tarmac debut in the Supersport class aboard a Wilson Craig Honda.
Qualifying begins tomorrow [Friday] with a full race programme scheduled for Saturday. The entry fee is £20 for both days or £15 for Saturday Race Day and includes an official programme.