Belfast Telegraph

Star duo confirm their places at 2019 North West 200

Powering on: Derek Sheils
Powering on: Derek Sheils

By Roy Harris

Derek Sheils and Tom Weeden will be in distinctive new Burrows RK Racing colours when they line up for the start of May’s fonaCAB International North West 200 in association with Nicholl Oils.

Sheils, the 36-year-old Dubliner, makes his return to the north coast after missing last year’s event and will campaign a pair of GSXR 1000RR Suzukis in both the Superbike and Superstock events, while 25-year-old Weeden from Maidstone will ride a Superstock specification Suzuki in the big bike races alongside a Yamaha R6 in both Supersport events.

Sheils said: “My ambition in 2019 is to get strong top-10 finishes in all the international road races. I never seem to have enough power at the North West and it’s hard to keep up with the little fellows on factory machinery.

“My best is a fifth place in 2017 in the damp and a ninth in the dry riding the wheels off the bike. The new Suzukis should help close the gap.”

Weeden, the 2016 Senior Manx Grand Prix winner, also missed last year’s North West after suffering serious injuries in a 2017 TT crash, but is now fully recovered and looking forward to tackling the 8.9-mile Triangle on the fastest machinery he has ever had at his disposal.

“Joining Burrows RK Racing is a massive opportunity and I have got to make the most of it,” he said. “I made my North West debut in 2015 and my best finishes have been 17th in Supersport races. I want to be pushing into the top 10 this time around.”

Team principal John Burrows added: “I want to help Tom get his spark back after his injury. He was the fastest newcomer at the Ulster Grand Prix last year and hasn’t forgotten how to ride a motorbike.

“Derek is well capable of mixing it with Glenn Irwin, Alastair Seeley and the rest. The North West is an important event for us and our riders with our new sponsor this year.”

Meanwhile, Magherafelt rider Paul Jordan was yesterday confirmed as the Bristol-based Dafabet Devitt Racing Team rider for 2019 competing exclusively on Kawasaki machinery in Superbike, Superstock, Supersport and Lightweight.

The team, operated by RC Express, were impressed by Jordan’s two outings at the Ulster Grand Prix and Macau Grand Prix last year, deputising for the injured Ivan Lintin following his Southern 100 accident in July.

In fact, Jordan brilliantly finished fourth and sixth in both the Superbike and Superstock races at Dundrod, where he also put in an impressive personal best lap of 131.148mph.

The 26-year-old former Irish and Ulster 125cc road race champion (inset) said: “After two successful meetings with the team last year, I’m delighted to have joined Dafabet Devitt Racing for 2019 and I can’t wait for the season to get under way.

“Roy and Ben (Constable, team owners) made me feel at home from day one and this opportunity offers me the chance to take another step forward and do myself and everyone connected with the team proud.”

The team’s main thrust for 2019 will be the Isle of Man TT, where it will be Jordan’s third appearance, and the Ulster Grand Prix, while the Southern 100 will see him make his debut with selected rounds of the Pirelli National Superstock 1000cc Championship also pencilled in.

Still recovering from his injuries, Lintin will remain a part of the team set-up in a non-racing capacity. 

Meanwhile, all roads lead to the Eikon Exhibition Centre in Balmoral Park, Lisburn this weekend for the Nutt Promotions Blackhorse NI Motorcycle Fest, Ireland’s largest annual motorcycle festival.

This is the fourth year the NI Motorcycle Festival has taken place at the Eikon Centre and, after record crowds last year, promoter Billy Nutt will be anticipating something similar when doors open at 2pm on Friday.

A number of guests will be in attendance during the show including Scottish BSB racing brothers Tarren and Taylor Mackenzie, who will be in attendance on Saturday and Sunday.

Nutt said: “Without the support of the major motorcycle dealers in Northern Ireland we wouldn’t have the show that we have. This year they are back and will have on show many of the top 2019 models from all the major manufacturers.

“There is something for enthusiasts, keen amateurs and admirers alike at the exhibition from Downtown Radio and Cool FM coming live from the Eikon Centre, all the various sporting bodies, accessories, organising clubs and supporters’ clubs will be in attendance.

“PSNI Bikesafe will be promoting their training initiatives to keep bikers safer on the roads, Kustom Bike Village and Classic display while outside there will be pit bike racing, stunt shows and trials riding.”

Free car parking is available on site and two minibuses will be operating a shuttle service to the Eikon Centre from Lisburn Railway station free of charge.

Opening times are: Friday 2pm-9pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm; admission is £12/€12 for adults and £6/€6 for senior citizens. Under-16s go free.

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