New Ulster Superbike Championship can restore prestige to local series, says chief
Northern Ireland motorcycling's governing body is confident the newly re-branded Ulster Superbike Championship has the potential to restore short circuit racing to its former glory.
Details of the revamped series were announced last night by the Motorcycle Union of Ireland (Ulster Centre) during a launch at the Chimney Corner Hotel in Newtownabbey.
A prize fund of £50,000 has been secured with the backing of title sponsor AJ Plumbing Supplies for the 10-round championship, which gets under way next month with the traditional Easter Saturday Enkalon meeting at Bishopscourt in County Down.
John McAllister, chairman of the MCUI (UC), said the new-look series represented the biggest opportunity for short circuit racing since the days of the lucrative Davy Wood-inspired Regal Championship.
"Short circuits are the breeding ground for the National Road Races and British Superbike Championship events," he said.
"Over the past decade alone we have produced several British champions and MotoGP competitors and just last year Jonathan Rea was the first person ever to win three World Superbike Championships back to back - what an ambassador for motorcycle racing and Northern Ireland," he added.
"The time is now right to re-launch this series of events and I truly believe that not since the late Davy Wood and the Regal Championship has short circuit racing had this chance of developing into a prestigious championship, where it belongs."
Prize money will be distributed at selected rounds by the seven promoting clubs hosting the series and competitors will also benefit from incentives provided by partner sponsors Metzeler and Loughview Leisure Group.
The main championship classes include Superbikes, Supersport, Supertwins, Lightweight, Moto3, Junior Cup and Sidecars, with several support classes.
Meanwhile, Morecambe's John McGuinness has joined Norton to contest the Isle of Man TT.
The 45-year-old was badly hurt in a crash at last year's North West 200 and hasn't raced since.
McGuinness, who is the second most successful rider ever at the TT behind Joey Dunlop with 23 wins, has teamed up with Aussie Josh Brookes to ride the latest SG7 machine.
He said: "I needed an injection of enthusiasm and I've found it with Norton."
Promising youngster Adam McLean has signed with top local team McAdoo Racing.
The deal was announced last night and comes a day after the 21-year-old Magherafelt ace was released from his contract by the Isle of Man-based IMR team.
McLean is regarded as one of the brightest prospects in the sport and finished fourth in the Supersport race at last year's North West 200.
He was also the best newcomer at the Isle of Man TT last year and impressed at the Ulster Grand Prix, where he earned a rostrum place in the Supertwins race.
McLean joins James Cowton in the Co Tyrone team and will ride Kawasaki Superbike and Supersport machinery.
He said: "I'm sorry it didn't work out with Team IMR but when McAdoo Racing contacted me I couldn't believe it got sorted out so quickly."