Sunflower Trophy: Lowry the one to watch
Ian Lowry will be the star attraction for the Sunflower Trophy as he bids to defend the crown he won last year.
Ireland’s premier short circuit motorcyling event, which is held at Bishopscourt, near Downpatrick, on Friday and Saturday, October 15 and 16, was launched last night by the promoting Hillsborough and District Motorcycle Club with the defending champion Lowry set to ride a Paul Bird Motorsport World Superbike Kawasaki.
In something of a coup for the Hillsborough Club the Sunflower meeting will also see the first local appearance by new British supersport champion 20-year old Sam Lowes from Lincoln who, it was announced last night, will be making his debut for the Parkalgar Honda World Supersport team replacing Eugene Laverty, who is moving up to the World Superbike championship in 2011.
Relentless Suzuki by TAS have five-time Sunflower Trophy winner Michael Laverty, currently lying fourth in the British Superbike championship, keen to regain the trophy he last won in 2007 while his team mate Alastair Seeley, 2010 BSB rookie of the year, is a prolific winner around the 1.8mile Co Down track.
The Superbike grids are brimming with a host of quality competitors including John Laverty (Buildbase Kawasaki) and his team-mate Adam Jenkinson, new Irish Superbike champion Marshall Neill (Wilson Craig Honda) plus all the top local ISB competitors.
In the Supersport class, local riders like Glenn Irwin, Johnny Buckley, Michael Dunlop and Kirk Jamison will have their work cut out to fend off the challenge of regular British Supersport competitors Sam Lowes, Australian Billy McConnell riding for the Temple based Mar-Train Racing Team, Ben Wilson and Jack Kennedy.
Sidecars form a major part of the 13-race programme for the Sunflower meeting and ex-world champions the Birchall Brothers plus Tim Reeves and Gregory Cluze are the likely front-runners amongst the teams from England, Scotland, Northern and Southern Ireland.
Hillsborough Club spokesman Eric Lyons said: “We are absolutely delighted with the quality international line up we have for this year’s Sunflower.”
Two hours of practice for Supersport and Superbike machines only will be held on Thursday, October 14 from 1pm, then qualifying for all classes will start at 9am the following day with warm-up and racing from 9am on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Rea, winner of the Sunflower Trophy in 2006, will wait until first practice tomorrow before deciding whether he is fit to take part in the final World Superbike meeting in France after sustaining shoulder and wrist injuries last weekend at Imola.
Rea said: “I’ve had a detailed diagnosis on the injuries and we’re going to see how things go.
“I’d really like to ride at the weekend and consolidate third place in the championship for my team, sponsors and supporters, but it’s also important I’m in good shape to start testing for next season as soon as possible.”