Kinghan gearing up for Ulster title defence at Bishopscourt
Gerard Kinghan will begin the defence of his AJ Plumbing Supplies Ulster Superbike championship at Bishopscourt on Saturday, March 30 under the auspices of the Temple Club after the confirmation of dates for the 11-round series were announced.
The re-vamped championship was a breath of fresh air to the short circuit scene this year with full grids, close racing throughout all the classes and a good turn-out of spectators that the promoting clubs will hope to build on in 2019.
After 15-years of racing, 33-year-old Kinghan clinched his first championship in winning the Ulster title and switches from Kawasaki machinery to Graeme Hanna's IFS Yamaha for 2019.
The Randalstown rider said: "I would still like to be racing at the sharp end in England, but running your own team is just so costly now. I enjoy racing on home soil and the racing was very close this year and after having worked so hard over the years I was delighted to win the championship."
One man looking to knock Kinghan from his perch will be 25-year-old Castledawson rider Nico Mawhinney, returning to the sport after two serious injury set-backs.
The first of these came at the North West 200 in 2016 when he crashed at Mill Road Roundabout in practice on his road racing debut and then a year later at Mallory Park during a Thundersport GB meeting, sustaining very serious leg injuries that threatened his future participation in the sport.
Having acquired the potent Lee Hardy RAF Reserve Superstock Kawasaki, campaigned by Gary Johnson on the roads, Mawhinney will be looking to put the injury plagued seasons behind him to hopefully challenge for wins during the up and coming 2019 season on his Team Polaris ZX-10RR machine.
Alistair Kirk, newly graduated Charles Stuart and a host of other riders will make things tough for Kinghan and Mawhinney.
AJ Plumbing Supplies Ulster Superbike confirmed dates for 2019: March 30 Bishopscourt (Temple Club). April 20 Bishopscourt (MCRRCI). April 22 Kirkistown (Belfast & District). June 1 Kirkistown (Belfast & District). July 15 Bishopscourt (Mid Antrim Club short track). July 20/21 Bishopscourt (Mid Antrim Club Neil Robinson Trophy), August 17 Bishopscourt (Bishopscourt Club). September 7 Kirkistown (Belfast & District). September 21/22 Bishopscourt (MCRRCI). October 5 St Angelo (Enniskillen Club). October 25/26 Bishopscourt (Hillsborough Club Sunflower Trophy).