Derek Sheils opts out of Tandragee 100

Derek Sheils (CD Racing Kawasaki) won the opening Superbike race at the Cookstown 100
Derek Sheils (CD Racing Kawasaki) won the opening Superbike race at the Cookstown 100

CD Racing’s Derek Sheils is a non-starter at this weekend’s 54th Around-A-Pound Tandragee 100 in Co Armagh.

The Dublin man was in terrific form at last Saturday’s Irish national road racing season-opener at Cookstown, taking victories in the Supersport and Superbike classes, but Chris Dowd’s team has opted to skip Tandragee this year and won’t be in action again until the Vauxhall International North West 200, which takes place from May 13-17.

Team boss Dowd told the News Letter: “We’ve just decided to give Tandragee a miss because last year we had a few issues with the organisers that we weren’t happy about, so we’ll just let it go by and go straight to the North West 200.

“Cookstown was a great meeting though, very well run and we can’t really complain with two wins from four starts, although we were maybe a bit disappointed because we felt we could’ve had more.

“I don’t think Derek would’ve been beaten in the second 600 race only for the fact the 600 was probably about 10 per cent down on what it normally would be, because we’d a few wee problems with the bike after Derek crashed at Mondello [at the Adelaide Masters].

“But it was a good weekend with two wins when you consider you’re up against riders like William and Michael Dunlop,” Dowd added.

“Derek is riding well at the minute and is starting to get to grips with the big bike. He’s one of those riders who won’t take any chances until he feels everything is right but he’s getting dialled in now.”

Sheils finished as the runner-up in the feature Superbike race last year at Tandragee behind Michael Dunlop and confirmation of his absence is disappointing news, however the organising North Armagh Club has still secured an impressive line-up with William Dunlop riding the Tyco Suzuki Supersport machine and Ryan Farquhar and Keith Amor set to return to Irish national road racing after coming out of retirement.

Mullingar’s Derek McGee, last year’s Supersport winner Wayne Kirwin, Shaun Anderson, Michael Sweeney, Jamie Hamilton, Stephen McKnight, Sam Wilson, Seamus Elliott, Mark Hanna and Davy Morgan are also entered.

Dan Kneen, a surprise Superbike winner at Cookstown, will also make his debut at Tandragee on the Cookstown/BE Racing machines for John Burrows.