Isle of Man TT star Michael Dunlop is back in action for the first time since his record-breaking Superbike and Senior TT double at Saturday’s AXA Bikecare Skerries 100.
Dunlop, who raised the outright lap record around the Mountain Course to a staggering 133.962mph on his way to a sizzling triumph in the blue riband Senior, will be eager to put on a show at his loyal sponsor Gary Ryan’s home event at the 2.9-mile north Dublin course.
Heavy rain showers and bursts of hail posed some problems during practice, resulting in the sessions being untimed.
Dunlop, though, did set the fastest time in the Open class with a lap of 101.311mph, which left him 2.5 seconds clear of Meath rider Alan Bonner.
Home favourite Derek Sheils, who dominated on his local patch last summer as he clinched a big bike double in front of his delighted fans, only managed two laps after the Dublin man developed a small problem on John Burrows’ Cookstown B.E. Racing Suzuki.
The issue was a broken water hose clip and on Friday night team boss Burrows explained he realised something was amiss as he watched the Open practice session at Finnegan’s Corner.
“We were standing watching at Finnegan’s Corner and each time Derek leant in to go around, I noticed this splash of water coming from the bike,” he said.
“We got Derek to stop on his next lap and he pulled in and only got the two laps, so hopefully it’ll be fine now for tomorrow.
“Conditions were absolutely atrocious and not only was there heavy rain, there were even some big hail showers as well,” he added.
“I think the forecast is a bit better for Saturday up until around 2pm so hopefully the weather will improve.”
Grid positions will be determined based on current Irish Championship standings, leaving Sheils on pole in the Superbike class from Mullingar’s Derek McGee on Noel Williamson’s BMW and Skerries man Michael Sweeney.
Dunlop has not contested any of the Irish National meetings this season and therefore has no championship points, however it is understood the 27-year-old will start from the ‘A’ group.
The same applies to Sheils in the Supersport class, who only rode Burrows’ 600cc Honda for the first time this year in practice at Kells last month before the event was cancelled due to heavy rain.
William Dunlop, who made a last-minute decision to race at Skerries this weekend as he recovers from injury following his crash during practice at the Isle of Man TT, is set to start from pole on the IC Racing Yamaha R6. Magherafelt’s Paul Jordan will line up in second place on the front row along with Sweeney.
The famous Skerries 100 is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.
Roads close on Saturday morning at 9am sharp with the first race expected underway around 10am.