Derek Sheils will start from pole for the Open and feature Superbike races at Saturday’s KDM Hire Cookstown 100 in Co Tyrone.
The Cookstown B.E. Racing Suzuki rider sealed the top spot at his team’s home track with a best lap in 1m 25.955s, putting the Dublin rider almost a second clear of Derek McGee (NW Racing BMW).
Skerries man Michael Sweeney continued his excellent run of form this season by qualifying third fastest on the MJR Kawasaki ahead of Brian McCormack, who was a late entry on the TAG Racing/VTL Honda.
William Dunlop will line up in fifth place on the MSS Kawasaki Superstock machine, which the 30-year-old rode for the first time at the Tandragee 100 last weekend.
Bolton’s Malachi Mitchell-Thomas – making his Cookstown bow – was sixth fastest on the Burrows Superstock Suzuki, almost half-a-second behind Dunlop, while Dan Kneen will start from seventh on the Mar-Train Yamaha R1M Superstock machine.
Kneen rode the full-blown Superbike at Tandragee but is due to concentrate on the Superstock version of the Yamaha today to gain more time on the bike ahead of next month’s Vauxhall International North West 200 (May 10-14).
In the Supersport class, it was Magherafelt’s Paul Jordan (B&W Honda) who edged out McGee for pole, with Kneen third on the time sheets ahead of 20-year-old prospect Mitchell-Thomas (Burrows Honda).
Last year’s race winner William Dunlop was fifth on the CD-IC Racing Yamaha, while James Cowton rounded out the top six.
Last night’s scheduled Invitational Supersport race was postponed until today due to safety concerns posed by the low sun.
In the 125GP/Moto3 class, Adam McLean set the pace ahead of local man Jordan and Nigel Moore, followed by Sam Wilson, Derek McGee and Paul Robinson. Gary Dunlop, making his Cookstown debut, was eighth quickest.
In the Supertwins session, popular Czech rider Michal Dokoupil topped the leader board from Jordan, Mitchell-Thomas and Sheils.
Meanwhile, Saintfield’s Davy Morgan is a non-starter at Cookstown, opting out of the event due to financial limitations.
The Irish road racing stalwart was forced to make the decision to boost his chances of competing at the Isle of Man TT, although a statement issued by his team via social media said his participation on the Mountain Course was also ‘not certain due to a lack of available funds’.
Morgan will, however, compete at the North West 200, when he will only be in action on his Magic Bullet Honda Superbike. He is saving his Kawasaki ZX-10R Superstock machine and 600cc Yamaha for what he hopes will be a full-on assault at the TT across all classes in June, dependent on funds.
Roads close at 10am for a 15-race schedule. The running order, subject to change, is as follows:
Race 1 – Open Non Championship A.
Race 2 – Moto3/125GP.
Race 3 – Supersport 600cc A.
Race 4 – Supersport 600cc B.
Race 5 – 201 – 400cc Junior Support A.
Race 6 – 201– 400cc Junior Support B.
Race 7 – Up to 250cc/350cc Junior Classic, Race 8 – Supertwins A.
Race 9 – Supertwins B.
Race 10 – 351cc/1000cc Senior Classic, Race 11 - Cookstown 100 A.
Race 12 – Cookstown 100 B.
Race 13 – 401 – 750cc Senior Support A.
Race 14 – Supersport 400 A, Race 15 – Supersport 400 B.