Irwin and Laverty lead Easter parade of big bike action
Easter is set to provide an action-packed programme of motorcycle racing both here at home in today's 40th Enkalon Trophy Race meeting at Bishopscourt (11am) and also in British Championship tomorrow and Monday where a glut of local talent will be on show in the world's leading domestic series at Brands Hatch in Kent.
Leading the way in British Superbike Championship will be Carrick's Glenn Irwin (BeWiser Ducati) and Toomebridge ace Michael Laverty aboard the McAMS Yamaha.
Local team Tyco BMW are also still chasing their first BSB title this season, with Englishman Christian Iddon and hard man Davide Giugliano - a product of the World Superbike Championship - who is aiming to become the first Italian to win a coveted BSB title.
Another 'local' we can claim in the BSB series is Newtownards-based Australian Josh Brookes. The 2015 British champion is back after a frustrating year in World Superbike, now riding the Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha - a similar machine to the one that helped him become the first Aussie to win a BSB title 18 months ago.
Brookes grabbed a podium during the opening round a fortnight ago at Donington Park, as did Irwin and Iddon, but the man they all must overcome on Easter Monday is Kawasaki-mounted Leon Haslam, a double winner at round one, with reigning champion Shakey Byrne also set for a return after being ruled out of the Donington races with concussion.
A stronger bet for Ulster honours will come in the British Supersport class, where no less than five locals have a great chance of standing on the top step in the Sprint races tomorrow or the middleweight feature race on Monday.
Andrew Irwin grabbed his debut British Supersport podium with Gearlink Kawasaki during round one and will undoubtedly be in the thick of the action, as will flame-haired Derry man David Allingham.
He finished fifth at the Leicestershire venue for the EHA Racing team, owned and run by his father and step-mother Edward and Gail Allingham.
Keith Farmer, third in last season's 1000cc British Superstock class, did a great job during his first stand-in ride for the Appleyard Yamaha squad at Donington in seventh, with MV Agusta-mounted Dubliner Jack Kennedy one place higher in sixth.
Double British champion Alastair Seeley, who is riding a Moto2 hybrid machine in the class as a pilot scheme for the future, did finish second at Donington Park but isn't allowed to score points - but going on his round one performance, he will have a big hand in deciding who does!
Lisburn's Carl Phillips is a rookie in the 1000cc Superstock class riding for TT king and new author Michael Dunlop, and in the smaller classes the number 15 KTM of Eugene McManus is certainly worth noting after he also scored his debut British championship podium last time out in the British Motostar class.
Young Scott Swann is riding in the British Motostar class for standard machinery and took a fine eighth place during his class debut - a great result for the 14-year-old.
The British Superbike and supporting classes race action gets under way tomorrow with the British Supersport Sprint race (12.20pm) followed by the Motostar class (1.30pm), where both McManus and Swann will be in action.
A second British Supersport Sprint race then takes place at 3.40pm, with a full programme scheduled for Easter Monday that will include the big guns in the British Superbike class.
Leading the way today at Bishopscourt at the Enkalon Trophy meeting will be William Dunlop, Dan Kneen and Hudson Kennaugh, the no-nonsense South African who will be making his debut for Ryan Farquhar's KMR Racing team aboard Supertwin and Superstock machinery.