Belfast Telegraph

Mawhinney and McCormack battle to be king

 

Top gear: Nico Mawhinney wants Kirkistown joy
Top gear: Nico Mawhinney wants Kirkistown joy

By Roy Harris

The AJ Plumbing Supplies Ulster Superbike Championship travels up the Co Down coast from Bishopscourt to Kirkistown for the traditional Easter Monday meeting.

Here the Belfast and District Club will revive the King of Kirkistown title that was one of the principal race meetings on the calendar between 1968 and 1992.

The King of Kirkistown title on Monday will go to the highest aggregate scorer from both Superbike championship races and has drawn a competitive entry from the best of our short circuit riders and a smattering of road racers looking a final outing before the Cookstown 100 next Friday and Saturday.

Monday's winner will add his name to an illustrious list of past winners like Cecil Crawford, the first ever winner, Tommy Robb (twice), Joey Dunlop, a triple winner, Ray McCullough and George Farlow.

Those likely to be in contention include David Haire, Carl Phillips, Gerard Kinghan, Ali Kirk, Nico Mawhinney, Ryan Gibson, Brian McCormack and Derek McGee.

McCormack said: "I grew up watching this race and am going to give it my best shot."

Making a welcome return to Kirkistown is Castledawson rider Mawhinney on his ex-RAF Reserve Superstock Kawasaki after missing a full season through injury.

He said: "The crowds used to be phenomenal on Easter Monday and the King of Kirkistown is one of the titles I would like to have."

The race did make a one-off comeback in 2010 when Marshall Neill won it on a Suzuki, narrowly beating Haire in the process, but this was at the B&D September meeting and for the second Superbike race victory.

A full programme of supporting races should provide some thrilling battles with practice commencing from 9am and racing following immediately afterwards.

Meanwhile, Desertmartin hosts the second round of the Nutt Travel MRA Ulster Motocross series on its customary Easter Monday date with the Adair Building Services Premier MX1 class set to be a thrilling encounter between Jason Meara (Kawasaki) and KTM mounted James Mackrel as both come to the renowned sand track level on points after round one.

Older brother John Meara was a winner during the Irish round at Tandragee last week and cannot be discounted while defending Ulster champion Richard Bird, on his five5motorsport KTM, won't let his title go without a fight.

With no racing on the mainland, championship leader in the Sports Insure Premier MX2 class Martin Barr, on his Crescent Yamaha, will start favourite to build on his advantage after his double at round one.

Qualifying starts at 9.30am and racing from 11am, the circuit signposted from the main Desertmartin-Maghera road.

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