Ulster Grand Prix withdrawals open the door for Steve Mercer
Road racers Steve Mercer and Jamie Coward will lead the assault for RC Express Racing at this year's MCE Insurance Ulster Grand Prix.
Mercer's decision was based upon the withdrawal of his Jackson Racing team from the event and the confirmation by leading RC Express rider and double TT winner Ivan Lintin that injuries sustained in a recent event at Scarborough had ended any chance of the Lincoln-based rider competing around the famous Dundrod circuit.
Both regular Devitt RC Express riders have been ruled out of the MCE UGP due to injuries sustained in separate incidents over recent weeks, with Alan Bonner the first casualty at the Southern 100, closely followed by a high speed off for Lintin at Oliver's Mount.
"It's been a tough few weeks," commented team principal Ben Constable. "We knew that Alan's recovery time would be much slower, but there was always a slim chance that Ivan could be fit enough to compete at Ulster."
However, as Lintin's injury became more apparent following an operation to amputate a damaged finger, that hope all but diminished.
"Once we knew that Steve (Mercer) and the Jackson Racing team were not heading to the event, it did present an opportunity to have a rider of his talent and speed on Ivan's bike," said Constable.
Mercer had certainly demonstrated his form at this year's Isle of Man TT and one of only 22 riders to have lapped the course in excess of 129mph average.
"The Ulster is certainly one circuit that I enjoy and it's great that I will be able to make the event now thanks to RC Express," said the 33-year-old.
"Alan (Jackson) and the team have been supportive towards the decision for me to ride for RC Express. I'm a racer at the end of the day and this was also an opportunity to continue the form shown at this year's TT, as well as gain some valuable time on the bike ahead of the next endurance round with Jackson Racing."
A replacement for Bonner at the Barry Sheene festival in Scarborough arrived in the form of privateer racer Coward, who explained: "Riding under the RC Express banner and on board their machinery will give me that added confidence for the race that I need and ease some of the pressure I have whilst operating as a privateer. My best chance will certainly be on the 600, but I also feel that with a strong superbike, something I've not had previously, I can certainly be up at the sharp end in that class. I've worked hard for this and certainly aim to make the most of the chance that I have been given."