Phillips faces tough battle in bid for Bishopscourt joy
The big Easter weekend of motorcycle sport kicks off with round two of the Motorcycle Road Racing Club of Ireland's Ulster Superbike Championship at Bishopscourt on Saturday, which includes the Enkalon Trophy.
The Enkalon Trophy, which was first contested 42 years ago, will be fought for by the Superbike riders over two 10-lap races with the overall points scorer picking up the renowned prize, first won by Raymond McCullough at Aghadowey in 1977.
Past winners include Jackie Hughes, George Farlow, Sam McClements, Johnny Rea, Alan Irwin, Rodney McCurdy, Cameron Donald, Robert Dunlop and Alastair Seeley to name a few.
The favourite is Lisburn's Carl Phillips, who is currently leading the Ulster Superbike Championship after one round on his JMC Kawasaki.
With one of the strongest and most competitive ever fields entered for Saturday's races, Phillips will not have it all his own way with last year's winner and defending USB champion Gerard Kinghan on his IFS Yamaha looking to get back on track after crashing out of the opening round and suffering a nasty hand injury.
Alastair Kirk (McCurry Motorsport BMW), past winner David Haire, Shaun Anderson - who is having a run out on his NW BMW ahead of the roads season - and Adam McLean (McAdoo Kawasaki) will also be in action.
The dark horses could well be Nico Mawhinney (Team Polaris Kawasaki), who is on the comeback trail after missing a full season through injury, Ryan Gibson, triple Irish road race champion Derek McGee and Brian McCormack, who is making the trip from Waterford.
The Supersport races will be equally competitive with Mark Conlin, Christian Elkin, Marty Lennon, McGee, Jack Waring, McCormack and Darren Keys the main contenders.
While his brothers Glenn, Andrew and Graeme will be at Silverstone's opening BSB round on Monday, Ross Irwin will contest the Supertwins events at Bishopscourt.
Practice is scheduled from 9am on Saturday with a 16-race programme commencing at approximately 11am. An exciting day's action is guaranteed with riders from Scotland and England among the 200-plus entry.
To mark the 90th anniversary of the fonaCAB International North West 200 in association with Nicholl Oils, a special display an array of former NW 200 race-winning machines will be on display in the paddock.
Sponsored by Breda Tyre and Exhaust Centre, Saintfield Road, Newtownbreda, Belfast, the machines will also take part in a special parade lap with many of the old bikes ridden by former NW 200 winners.
Dick Creith's 1961-winning Ryan Norton and Billy McCosh's 1960 G50 Matchless and 7R AJS are among the older bikes, while the line-up of former riders includes Iain Duffus, Steven Cull, Ian Simpson, Steve Plater and Phillip McCallen.
John and Keith Miller run the Breda Tyre and Exhaust Centre, and the former said: "The North West is a great event to showcase our business. We have been working with the organisers as volunteers for a number of years, but to be on board as sponsors is special.
"We have a strong motorbike background as our father John was a road racer and I raced in motocross against Johnny Rea, father of World Superbike champion Jonathan."
Mervyn Whyte MBE said: "It's great to have the Miller brothers' support for our display and parade of previous North West 200 winners. They are passionate about motorcycling and have a great interest in classic and vintage machinery."