The Steve Henshaw International Gold Cup meeting gets under way at Oliver’s Mount on Saturday, where form-man Guy Martin is gunning for a ninth victory in the feature race.
The Tyco Suzuki star, who won three races at last month’s Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix at Dundrod, will start as favourite for Sunday’s top of the bill event at the Yorkshire circuit.
Martin’s rivals include Michael Dunlop on his MD Racing Honda, plus Padgett’s Honda duo John McGuinness and Brue Anstey along with Dean Harrison on the RC Express Racing Kawasaki.
Ian Lougher also returns to the event in what will be his final competitive appearance at Oliver’s Mount, with the Welsh rider retiring from the sport at the end of the season.
Lougher will compete in the 600cc and 1000cc classes and will also ride a Honda in the 250cc races, when his opponents include William and Michael Dunlop.
William will ride his brother’s TSR250 Honda, with Michael having a rare outing in the quarter-litre class on a Honda for John Burrows.
Dunlop – who will re-join the Honda TT Legends team for the Le Mans 24 Hours race for the final round of the Endurance World Championship next weekend – has also entered the Supertwin class on Burrows’ Kawasaki ER6 this weekend.
Castletown’s Chris Palmer, who celebrated success at the Classic TT, is also set to make his final appearance at Oliver’s Mount as he, too, considers calling time on his career.
Lincolnshire man martin, meanwhile, is a late entry at Scarborough on a Matchless G50 500 Classic machine, which he will ride in addition to his GSX-R1000 and GSX-R600 Suzukis.
Practice will take place from 9am on Saturday morning with the first of the weekend’s races due off at 1pm.
The meeting concludes on Sunday, when the Gold Cup showdown takes centre stage.
Meanwhile, Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty ended the opening day of practice at Istanbul Park in Turkey on Friday third fastest ahead of the inaugural World Superbike round at the venue.
Laverty is fourth in the series standings, 40 points behind Tom Sykes with four rounds of the championship, including this weekend’s meeting in Turkey, remaining.
Guintoli topped the times in first qualifying with a fastest lap of 1m 56.190s followed by BMW’s Marco Melandri (1m 56.749s) and Laverty, who lapped in 1m 56.949s.
Ulsterman Jonathan Rea misses the event as he recovers from a broken femur sustained in a heavy crash at the Nurburgring last time out.
His replacement in the Pata Honda team, former Red Devils Aprilia rider Michel Fabrizio, was tenth quickest yesterday, one place behind Leon Haslam.
Elsewhere, the Belfast and District Club’s Irish Superbike meeting will be re-run on Saturday at Kirkistown after the event was abandoned last weekend due to bad weather. Anyone who paid in last weekend will be admitted free with proof of admission.
Practice is scheduled to take place from 9am with racing from 1pm.