Superbikes: Champion Neill’s late entry adds spice to Mondello opener
The Irish Superbike season kicks into life this weekend at Mondello Park with the opening round of the Adelaide Masters’ Series, also incorporating the Bridgestone Cup Championship.
Reigning champion Marshall Neill is a late entry, giving local fans an opportunity to see him on the exotic, Italian built GR Motorsport Aprilia RSV4 — the same bike he will campaign in this season’s British Superstock series.
Neill wasn’t expected to take part in this season’s Masters, having committed to the UK Superstock series, but with €50,000 prize money on offer and the chance for some additional track time, expect to see the Portadown man at the head of proceedings on Saturday and Sunday.
TT winner Michael Dunlop is also on the entry lists, and will no doubt use the opening round of the Co Kildare series to sharpen him up for the upcoming national and international road races.
It will also give his large fan base south of the border an opportunity to see him debut the all-new Street Sweep ZX-10 Kawasaki.
Dunlop, like Neill, will also be on his Superstock machine at Mondello, where Irish Superbike regulars Kirk Jamison and Mark Johnston will be looking to steal the headlines.
Mark Pollock makes a welcome return to local action riding for Gerald Kingsbury and could pose a major threat in the Superbike class, as will Jamie Hamilton, Davy Haire, Brian McCormack, Richard Rea and Manxman Gavin Hunt.
British Supersport regular Jack Kennedy, fresh from his World Supersport debut, will be the Supersport class favourite on his Appleyard Macadam Yamaha, with Antrim’s Jonny Buckley also entered. Both will run their Supersport machine in Sunday’s big- money Masters race, and due to the tight and sinuous nature of the circuit, the Supersport men should give the larger capacity machines a run for their money.
The high-profile four-round championship will benefit from local television coverage this season, with eight, half-hour programmes being shown on UTV’s RPM Motorsport programme – the first of which can be seen on April 14.