The opening Superbike race at the Sunflower Trophy race meeting at Bishopscourt yesterday didn't disappoint with Danny Buchan (FS-3 Kawasaki), Michael Laverty (Tyco BMW) and newcomer to the Co Down track Richard Cooper (Buildbase Suzuki) putting on a high-speed nine-lap show.
Cooper came through on the final lap to pass Buchan and take his first ever Irish victory by a quarter of a second, while Laverty dropped off the pace in the closing laps to finish three and a half seconds behind the Basildon rider in third.
Cooper was also the only man in the race to dip into the 1m 6sec lap bracket on the seventh lap as he closed in on race leader Buchan, before making his decisive race winning move.
Cooper had shown his qualities in qualifying, setting the fastest lap of 1m 5.968secs to claim pole position three quarters of a second shy of Christian Iddon's 2016 lap record.
In the gathering gloom, road race hero Dean Harrison showed his short circuit capabilities by finishing fourth, four and a half seconds behind Laverty, with a terrific ride from newly crowned Ulster Superbike champion Gerard Kinghan in fifth position two seconds behind the Dundrod Ulster Grand Prix lap record holder.
Only three of the scheduled five races were completed due to fading light after qualifying had been interrupted by a series of red flags.
Dromore rider Jonathan Aiken raced to a three second win over Johnny Irwin in the five-lap Pre-Injection race, with Jonathan Gregory in third, while Lee Chambers led the Superbike B race from start to finish, taking the chequered flag a tenth of a second ahead of Andrew Irvine, who stormed through from fifth at the end of the opening lap of five.
Earlier in the day, qualifying interest centred on the Supertwin class in which Carrickfergus rider Glenn Irwin will be on pole position for today's two races riding the John Burrows Kawasaki ER6, just a third of a second faster than Jeremy McWilliams on the Ryan Farquhar KMR Kawasaki, with Dan Cooper third fastest and new British Junior Supersport champion Eunan McGlinchey fourth on his debut on the McAdoo Kawasaki.
McWilliams made his Moto3 debut on a KMR Honda and qualified fifth fastest behind Christian Elkin, Paul Robinson, Sam Laffins and Eugene McManus, the only KTM in the Honda dominated field.
Jason Lynn topped Supersport qualifying from Robert Kennedy, Richard Kerr, visitor Milo Ward, Simon Reid and Aaron Clifford.
Racing today is scheduled to get under way from 10.30am with the feature Sunflower Trophy Race the first contest after the lunch break with Michael Laverty chasing a record seventh victory, Buchan looking for his third and Cooper his first.
It should be a cracking day's racing.