Belfast Telegraph

Kinghan headlines strong entry list for Ulster Superbike championship

 

Pacesetter: last year’s champion Gerard Kinghan
Pacesetter: last year’s champion Gerard Kinghan

By Roy Harris

Tomorrow sees the opening round of the AJ Plumbing Supplies Ulster Superbike championship take place at Bishopscourt, with defending champion Gerard Kinghan heading the entry list on his IFS Yamaha.

Switching from Kawasaki, Kinghan will have a host of riders trying to dethrone him this season including an entry from Nico Mawhinney riding the Polaris Racing Kawasaki, a potent machine purchased from the Lee Hardy RAF Regular and Reserve stable and raced at the TT by Gary Johnson.

Mawhinney is returning to the sport following a lengthy recuperation after his huge accident at Mallory Park in 2017 and has been testing in Spain and at Kirkistown to get back up to speed.

Alistair Kirk and Ryan Gibson - second and third in last year's championship - also return, along with the talented Gary McCoy in his first full season on a Superbike, ex-BSB runner Carl Phillips and veteran Ian Lougher.

In the Temple Club promotion Supersport is headed by Cornmarket Young Rider of the Year Eunan McGlinchey on his Team #109 Kawasaki, who will face strong competition from Mark Conlin, Simon Reid, Joseph Loughlin and Aaron Clifford.

A full programme of races for Super and Production Twins, Pre-Injection and Lightweight 400cc is sure to kick off the season with fast, furious action after the long winter break.

Practice starts at 9am tomorrow with racing scheduled from 12noon.

Meanwhile, the Nutt Travel MRA Ulster Motocross championship also begins tomorrow at Robinson's MX Circuit with a new format, new sponsors and an increased prize fund, making it one of the best rewarded MX series in the UK.

Defending Premier MX1 champion Richard Bird got his season off to a flyer during the opening Irish championship in Cork last weekend, taking the overall win, but he will have to work for it at Loughbrickland tomorrow.

Brothers John (Kawasaki) and Jason Meara (450 KTM), Robert Hamilton (KTM), Jordan McCaw (KTM) and James Mackrel, also KTM mounted, are all capable of upsetting the favourite, especially with the winner of each moto receiving more than double last year's reward in the Adair Building Services sponsored class.

Racing will start at 11am tomorrow, with admission £5, and the circuit will be signposted from Claudy village.

A strong contingent of local riders including Graeme Irwin, Adam McLean, Paul Jordan, Ross Patterson, Eugene McManus, Curtis Trimble, James McManus, Korie McGreevy, Eugene McGlinchey, Simon Reid, Jordan McCord and Sam Laffins all took advantage of yesterday's BSB Support classes test day at Silverstone, gaining valuable miles around the circuit ahead of the opening BSB round over Easter.

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