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Derek McGee is aiming for the perfect return at Walderstown after year-long absence through injury

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Derek McGee hasn’t raced since Armoy last year

Derek McGee hasn’t raced since Armoy last year

Michael Sweeney will be favourite for Race of the South glory

Michael Sweeney will be favourite for Race of the South glory

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Derek McGee hasn’t raced since Armoy last year

Multiple Irish road racing champion Derek McGee is set to make his comeback this weekend at Walderstown in Athlone.

McGee hasn’t raced since competing at Armoy last summer, when his results included podiums in the Superbike class, a runner-up finish in the second Supersport race and a victory and new lap record in the Supertwin event.

The southern Irishman missed the rescheduled Cookstown 100 last September after breaking his pelvis during a pit bike training accident.

It was the latest injury setback for the Mullingar rider, who did not race at all throughout 2020 after taking a break from the sport to give his injuries a chance to heal properly after a big crash in qualifying at Greeba Castle at the Isle of Man TT in 2019.

One of national road racing’s leading contenders, McGee — who will be 36 today — will be among the favourites at his home meeting tomorrow, despite his long absence.

The line-up also includes Cork’s Mike Browne on the Burrows Engineering/RK Racing machines.

Browne made a successful return to the national scene last weekend at the Skerries 100 in County Dublin, clinching a Supersport and Moto3 double and twice finishing as the runner-up in the Open and Grand Final Superbike races.

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He skipped the ill-fated Kells Road Races in County Meath to allow more time for his injuries to recover following a gruelling two weeks at the Isle of Man TT, where Browne made his racing return after breaking both ankles in a crash at the Cookstown 100 in April, ruling him out of the Tandragee 100 and North West 200.

“The three weeks since the TT gave my ankles a bit more time to heal and they definitely felt a lot better on the bikes,” said Browne.

“I was happy overall with how the weekend went at Skerries and although the big race didn’t go my way, I was happy with two second places.

“I was delighted to beat ‘Micko’ (Michael Sweeney) in the Supersport race and it was nice to tick off a win on the Moto3 and set a lap record, so we roll on to Walderstown now and we’ll give it another bash.”

Skerries man Michael Sweeney bagged the Man of the Meeting crown at his home race last weekend with a Superbike double on his MJR BMW and a dominant victory in the Supertwin race. He goes into the Race of the South as the favourite for more success in the feature class, although the returning McGee and Browne will be determined not to let him have things all his own way.

Thomas Maxwell will also be eager to put on a show at his home road race, while Darryl Tweed from Ballymoney will again ride the Wilson Craig Honda Supersport machine.

Tweed impressed team owner Darren Gilpin at Skerries with a trio of podium finishes on the CBR600RR and should also be right in the mix again tomorrow.

The 31-year-old was granted the chance to ride for the Wilson Craig Racing team for the rest of this season following the departure of Yorkshire’s Joey Thompson after the TT.

Tweed and Frenchman Pierre Yves Bian will link up together later this month at Armoy.

Also this weekend, Edenderry’s Kevin Keyes will make his road racing debut at Walderstown.

The British Championship rider is a late entry for the Fore Club’s popular national race in Westmeath, where practice takes place today (roads closed from 12.30pm to 6.30pm).

Ten races are scheduled tomorrow, with roads closed from 8am and re-opening no later than 6.30pm.

The headline Race of the South Superbike grand final will be the last event on the programme.


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