Portadown’s Marshall Neill topped Friday’s qualifying sessions for Saturday’s feature race at the Sunflower trophy meeting at Bishopscourt.
Riding the Wilson Craig Honda Fireblade, Neill eclipsed star attractions Stuart Easton and Alastair Seeley to grab pole position for Ireland’s top short-circuit race.
Now fully recovered from the injuries he suffered in a big crash at Brands Hatch in 2011, the 37-year-old has a great track record at the County Down venue.
In 2011 Neill won the Enkalon Trophy race at Bishopscourt and was Man of the Meeting in the Sunflower meeting after winning both Supersport races and finishing second and third in the Superbike events.
Davy Haire on the Electrical Wholesale Express Honda and Nico Mawhinney on the Polaris Racing Suzuki will start second and third on the grid ahead of 2013 British Supersport champion Easton (Mar-Train Yamaha) and series runner up Seeley.
Ten-times North West 200 winner Seeley posted his fastest Sunflower qualifying lap on his 600cc Gearlink Kawasaki against the rest of the Superbike mounted pack but surprisingly neither Seeley nor Easton were able to match the pace of Mawhinney in the Supersport class practice.
The Magherafelt youngster will start from pole in what should be the race of the day with Seeley, Neill and Easton alongside him on the front row.
The action begins at Bishopscourt at 9am with warm-up sessions for every class being followed by six races that include Moto3, Supertwins and Sidecar action as well as the main solo classes. The flag is scheduled to drop for the start of the feature Sunflower trophy race immediately after the lunch break.