Practice for the AXA Bikecare Skerries 100 road races in north county Dublin was held under controlled conditions on Friday due to wet roads.
Ballymoney’s William Dunlop is back in action at the event after breaking his leg in a crash in the Senior race at the Isle of Man TT.
The Tyco Suzuki rider only has the GSX-R600 Supersport machine at Skerries this weekend but will be reunited with the TAS Racing Superbike for next week’s Southern 100.
Dunlop, though, set his fastest ever lap at Skerries in the Supersport class last year and could be an outsider for a rostrum finish in the Open race on Saturday.
He won the Supersport race in 2013 by half-a-second from brother Michael, who is absent from the Irish road race after travelling to Germany to collect the BMW S1000RR Superbike he will ride at the Southern 100 and Ulster Grand Prix at Dundrod.
Derek Sheils will be a strong contender for victory in front of his home fans on Chris Dowd’s MSS Kawasaki ZX-10R, with Jamie Hamilton on
Wilson Craig’s Honda machines, newcomer Dan Kneen (Cookstown B.E. Racing), Mullingar’s Derek McGee, Skerries man Michael Sweeney and the evergreen Davy Morgan among the key contenders in the Open and Grand Final races.
Roads close on Saturday morning at 9am sharp, with the Open race scheduled to get the programme underway shortly afterwards.
Meanwhile, Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea was third fastest after the opening day of practice for this weekend’s eighth round of the World Superbike Championship at Portimao in Portugal.
Rea set his lap of 1m 43.939s to finish ahead of Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Eugene Laverty in fourth, who lapped in 1m 44.147s in FP2.
The pair have an excellent record at the Portuguese circuit and will be confident of battling for the podium places on Sunday.
Marco Melandri set the pace on the Aprilia RSV4 with a best time of 1m 43.880s to take provisional pole ahead of defending world champion Tom Sykes (Kawasaki), who lapped in 1m 43.927s.
Ducati’s Chaz Davies and Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) completed the top six.
Dublin’s Jack Kennedy impressed in the Supersport class on the CIA Insurance Honda, setting the fourth fastest time yesterday as Kenan Sofuoglu headed the time sheets on the Mahi Team India Kawasaki.
Final qualifying takes place on Saturday.