Stuart eager to extend lead at revamped Mondello Circuit
The third meeting of the 2018 Dunlop Masters Championship takes place this weekend at the Mondello Park International Circuit, which has undergone partial resurfacing.
This is the first opportunity for competitors to face the challenge of the 3.5 mile circuit and may well throw up different winners.
R1 Yamahas have been dominating the series, with Ballycastle's Charles Stuart on the Parker Car Transport machine taking four wins and two second places in the six races to lead the series on 127.5 points, 34.5 ahead of Kilkenny rider Richie Ryan, the defending Masters champion.
Those hoping to knock the top two off the top of the podium include Peter Moloney, Brian McCormack and Luke Johnston, all BMW mounted, James Kelly (Suzuki) plus the Kawasakis of Andrew Murphy and Edward Comerford.
The main prize on offer is the Aidan Lynam Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the winner of the final Supersport Cup race of three scheduled for the weekend.
The last two winners of this award - Aaron Clifford in 2016 and Eunan McGlinchey last year - have gone on to compete successfully in British Superbike support classes.
This year's award could well be fought out between Keelim Ryan from Offaly, 19-year-old Eoin Collins from Lisdoonvarna and Co Clare 21-year-old Kevin Baker.
The main Dunlop Supersport series is currently led by Ahoghill rider Dean McMaster with a handy 50-point advantage over Emmet O'Grady, while Donegal 20-year-old Caolan Irwin is in sixth on 60 points following his three runner-up positions at the last round that earned him a Young Racer of the Year nomination for the end of season shoot-out worth €10,000 to the winner.
Irwin joins 18-year-old Newtownabbey rider Aaron Wright, who was nominated from the first Masters round.
Irwin and Wright won't be competing at Mondello this weekend as they race at Donington Park in the British Superstock 600cc championship round that supports World Superbike, where they will be joined by Kevin Keyes and Clifford.
There will be a packed programme of races at Mondello, including Pre-Injection, Super and Production Twins, Sidecars and Lightweight Supersport.
Meanwhile, the Isle of Man TT practice and qualifying starts tomorrow evening.
Huge interest will focus on the lightweight class getting its first run following the solo and sidecar speed-controlled lap.
Local interest in this class sees 15-time TT winner and outright lap record holder Michael Dunlop set to line up on a Paton, so impressive at the North West.
Ryan Farquhar has North West 200 Superstock race winner Peter Hickman on one of his IEG KMR Kawasakis alongside Derek McGee.
Winston McAdoo has Triangle Supertwin race winner James Cowton back on board his Gortreagh Printing Kawasaki, while Roy Hanna Motors runner Adam McLean starts his second TT.
Michael Sweeney and Derek Sheils also take part in the class.