Ex-British Superstock 1000 champion Josh Elliott will be back in the saddle this weekend as he makes his racing return at Mondello Park.
The Ballinamallard man was a British Superbike winner for the first time on the OMG Suzuki at Silverstone in 2019, but Elliott parted company from the team towards the end of that season after struggling for form.
With the Covid-19 pandemic limiting opportunities in 2020 and 2021, he was left waiting for the right chance to make his comeback.
But now the 28-year-old will compete in the Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship for the rest of this season on a Honda CBR600RR in the Supersport class for AKR Thomas Bourne Racing.
“I was surprised when I got the call and now I intend to make the most of my return to the track,” Elliott said.
I’m really looking forward to racing at the Masters, as it’s is such a well-run series.
“I have to thank AKR Thomas Bourne Racing for giving me this opportunity.
“I’m also looking forward to being back in a racing paddock again, enjoying my racing and seeing a few old faces, as well as getting back to the serious business of trying to get some decent results and hopefully repaying the team with race wins.”
Elliott, who won the British Superstock 1000 title in 2015, joins AJ Carey in the team, who is currently leading the Masters Supersport Championship after the first two rounds.
A former Supersport winner in the series in 2011, Elliott has significant ground to claw back to be in with a shot of the title with two rounds held already.
However, with riders permitted to drop their scores from a specific round, the Fermanagh man will effectively have missed only one event and could yet force his way into contention as he targets a return to winning ways.
Along with title pacesetter Carey, Emmett O’Grady underlined his credentials at the most recent round in May with a double on his Yamaha R6 and is also a strong contender in the Supersport class.
In the feature Superbike category, Wicklow’s Derek Sheils is back at Mondello’s national circuit this weekend after missing round two.
Sheils – who finished 15th in the Senior race at the Isle of Man TT two weeks ago – was a double winner at the first round in April on his Roadhouse Macau-backed BMW S1000RR Superstock machine.
He is currently fifth in the standings, 41 points behind Cavan’s Alan Kenny, who is only eight points ahead of reigning champion Richie Ryan from Kilkenny.
The trio are expected to fight it out for the race wins today and tomorrow, although Emmett O’Grady from Kerry and Dubliner Thomas O’Grady will also have designs on the top step of the rostrum.
The Masters Superbike grid has an international flavour this weekend as Spanish championship rider Jacque Foley lines up for the first time on his Suzuki Superbike. Foley will also ride in the Supertwin support races.
Qualifying gets underway this morning from 9.15am, with racing scheduled to commence before lunchtime.
Tomorrow, morning warm-up will start from 9.15am with the first race on the main programme due at approximately 10am.
Elsewhere this weekend, Assen in the Netherlands hosts the 11th round of the MotoGP World Championship, where Frenchman Fabio Quartararo will be aiming to extend his lead at the top over Spain’s Aleix Espargaro.