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Road warriors set to cook up a storm as Sheils takes Kirkistown crown with thrilling finish

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Paul Jordan will be one of the big names back in the saddle when Northern Irish road racing returns

Paul Jordan will be one of the big names back in the saddle when Northern Irish road racing returns

Paul Jordan will be one of the big names back in the saddle when Northern Irish road racing returns

Irish road racing returns next weekend with the KDM Hire Cookstown 100, which was postponed in April following the coronavirus outbreak.

The County Tyrone event is set to be the only road race to take place throughout Ireland in 2020 following the cancellation of all events in the Republic and the loss of the Tandragee 100, North West 200, Armoy and Ulster Grand Prix races.

Strict Covid-19 measures will be enforced at Cookstown, where a limited number of spectators will attend the event at the Orritor course. Admission will only be possible with a special wristband, which fans obtained as part of an online race package.

The line-up for the race includes Ulster Grand Prix winners Adam McLean and Paul Jordan, who will ride for the McAdoo Racing and Burrows Engineering/RK Racing teams respectively.

McLean was a winner at Cookstown in 2019 and will arrive at the event with plenty of racing miles under his belt after competing in the first three rounds of the National Superstock 600 Championship in England.

Jordan, from Magherafelt, will make his competitive debut for John Burrows' team alongside fellow new signing Michael Browne from Co Cork. The pair will ride 1000cc Suzuki and 600cc Yamaha machinery.

Skerries man Michael Sweeney is another leading name confirmed for the race on his MJR BMW. Sweeney will also compete in the Supersport and Supertwin races.

Derek Sheils - who has dominated the Superbike class at Cookstown over the past four years - could also compete at Cookstown on his new Roadhouse Macau-backed BMW, although he has yet to officially confirm his attendance.

However, Mullingar's Derek McGee will miss the race after deciding earlier this year to return in 2021 as he concentrates on his fitness following a crash last year at the Isle of Man TT.

Entries also feature Irish road racing stalwart Davy Morgan, Darryl Tweed, Neil Kernohan, Thomas Maxwell and the evergreen Paul Cranston.

Practice takes place on Friday afternoon from 12pm with 12 races scheduled for Saturday (roads closed 10am).

Spectators are asked to be in position by 11am on Friday and 9.30am on Saturday.

Meanwhile, motorcycle racing returned in Northern Ireland yesterday at Kirkistown in Co Down, where Sheils won the 'King of Kirkistown' Superbike title.

The Belfast and District Club's event was the first short circuit meeting of the year as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, which decimated the Irish motorcycling calendar.

Roads specialist Sheils was having his first race outing on his new Roadhouse Macau BMW and he made the perfect start yesterday, winning the opening Superbike race by just under half a second from Michael Dunlop, who made a rare appearance at Kirkistown on his MD Racing Suzuki.

Jason Lynn completed the rostrum in third with a fine ride after making the step up to the feature class for 2020 on a GSX-R1000 Suzuki, which was purchased from Burrows Engineering Racing team owner John Burrows.

In race two, Lynn was declared the winner after a red flag stoppage, but with Sheils in second place, the Co Wicklow man won the overall 'King of Kirkistown' title. Dunlop finished third on this occasion.

The Ballymoney man was in excellent form on his Yamaha R6 as he won both Supersport races to secure the 'Crown Prince of Kirkistown' title.

In race one, Dunlop came home four seconds clear of Joe Loughlin, although he had to work harder in the second race, which he won by a reduced margin of half a second, with Kyle Cross third.

The Kirkistown meeting is likely to be the final short circuit race in Northern Ireland this year, with the Mid Antrim Club's planned October meeting at Bishopscourt cancelled.

The prestigious Sunflower Trophy event, also traditionally held in October, was called off earlier this year.

Belfast Telegraph