Dan Kneen set to face a battle at Tandragee
Practice and qualifying ahead of tomorrow's Around a Pound Tandragee 100 road race starts this afternoon with all eyes on last week's surprise Cookstown 100 winner Dan Kneen, but he faces a tough task as he makes his debut around the longer and more demanding 5.3mile Tandragee circuit.
The Manxman rides Superbike, Supersport and Supertwin machines under the Cookstown BE banner for team owner John Burrows, but will face stiff Superbike competition from the two Derek's – Sheils and McGee – Jamie Hamilton, Davy Morgan, Michael Sweeney, Shaun Anderson and Seamus Elliott to name a few.
There will be huge interest in the return to the local road race scene of Ryan Farquhar and Scotland's Keith Amor, riding SGS International KMR Kawasaki's in the Supertwin race.
The last time the pair battled at Tandragee was 2009 and both are returning from retirement.
Farquhar is also entered in the Superbike, Supersport, Moto 450 and Classic races, riding the exotic Roger Winfield Gears 500cc Paton in the latter while Amor will race in the ultra-competitive Supersport class on a Rigdeluge Honda for Site Sealants and B&W Racing.
Farquhar, the most successful Irish road racer ever, chases win number 200 tomorrow, but extending his record is not top of his agenda.
He said: "I'm not even thinking about 200 wins. If it happens it happens, but if not I won't be disappointed.
"I've always enjoyed riding at Tandragee and Keith and I have had some hard races in the past, but Saturday is about enjoying myself with no pressure whatsoever.
"We are racing mainly to get track time and another race under our belts for our Isle of Man course licence."
William Dunlop is a late entry on the Tyco Suzuki Supersport machine and joins a wealth of talent including last year's winner Wayne Kirwan, Sheils, riding the Superfast CD/IC Yamaha, McGee, Amor, Farquhar, Hamilton on the Wilson Craig Honda, Sam Wilson, Sweeney and Stephen McKnight in what could well be the race of the day – it was the highlight a year ago.
A mega entry of over 300, including 30 newcomers, take part in tomorrow's eight-race programme around what is regarded as the top national road race circuit on the calendar.
Roads close this afternoon at 3.30pm, with practice scheduled to commence half an hour later. Tomorrow, roads close at 10am with the first of the eight races set to start at approximately 11am.
The dust will have hardly settled on the opening round of the MRA Ulster Motocross Championship when it is time for round two at Seaforde Motocross Park on Monday.
The opening Nutt Travel MX1 round was dominated by Graeme Irwin (Heads and All Threads Suzuki) and Jonathan Rea's JAR Honda rider Matt Moffett, but with both probable absentees on Monday as they take in a cross-channel event, Richard Bird, defending champion Gary Gibson, Wayne Garrett, Robert Hamilton and Ryan Adair will be all hoping to capitalise on the pair's absence.
Glenn McCormick has a strong early lead in the Norman Watt MX2 series, although Jason Meara will provide stiff opposition if fully recovered from a first round hamstring injury.
Racing commences on Bank Holiday Monday from 11.30am and the circuit will be signposted off the main Ballynahinch–Newcastle Road.