William Dunlop relishing opportunity for set-up time at Tandragee

William Dunlop on the Tyco Suzuki 600 at Cookstown
William Dunlop on the Tyco Suzuki 600 at Cookstown

William Dunlop will grasp the opportunity to gain some more valuable set-up time with his Tyco Suzuki Supersport machine at the 54th Around-A-Pound Tandragee 100 this weekend.

Dunlop finished on the podium in third place on his roads debut on the TAS Racing 600 in the Invitational Supersport race at Cookstown and is quickly adapting to the Metzeler-shod GSX-R after years spent racing on Dunlop rubber.

The 28-year-old had also hoped for another run out on the Tyco Suzuki Superbike after losing out on victory in the feature race at Cookstown by 0.3 seconds to Manxman Dan Kneen, but the Moneymore team’s commitments in the Bank Holiday British Superbike meeting at Oulton Park this weekend has restricted Dunlop solely to the 600.

“I’m looking forward to riding the 600 at Tandragee and it’ll be another chance to work on the chassis some more before the North West 200,” he said.

“The wee bike’s really flying at the minute so hopefully it’ll be dry for the race and we can have a good run.

“It’s my first time on the Metzeler and Pirelli tyres but I’m starting to get a feel for them and we found something for the second Superbike race at Cookstown, which worked really well,” he added.

“I’d have loved a run on the big bike too at Tandragee but it’s not possible with the British Superbike meeting being on this weekend at Oulton Park.

“I’ll probably not be out on the big bike again now until the North West unless there’s another test organised with Guy [Martin] but I’m happy with the bike anyway after Cookstown.”

The Supersport race at Tandragee is shaping up to be a mouth-watering contest with Keith Amor making his return to the spectacular 5.3-mile Co Armagh circuit for the first time since 2009.

Scotsman Amor will ride the Rig Deluge-backed Honda - previously raced by Cameron Donald for Wilson Craig Racing - while Ryan Farquhar is entered on the SGS International KMR Kawasaki.

Farquhar initially committed to the Supertwin, Moto450 and Classic races at Tandragee but holds an entry for every class and may find the temptation to compete on the bigger capacity machines too much to resist.

Irish riders Derek Sheils (CD Yamaha) and Derek McGee (Yamaha) were in excellent form at Cookstown and will be aiming for a repeat on Saturday, while Manxman Dan Kneen will attract plenty of interest after his sensational debut at the Orritor circuit.

Tandragee, though, represents and entirely different prospect and a top-six finish for the Cookstown/BE Racing recruit would be a brilliant result.

The Supersport line-up also includes Jamie Hamilton (Wilson Craig Honda), Shaun Anderson (Doons Stores Suzuki), Sam Wilson (Yamaha), Stephen McKnight (Yamaha), Seamus Elliott (D&GW Yamaha), Wayne Kirwan (Yamaha), Mark Hanna (Triumph) and Stephen McIlvenna (Yamaha).

Practice gets under way on Friday from 3.30pm-9.30pm, with roads closed on Saturday from 10am-7pm for an eight-race schedule.

Race programme, Saturday, May 3

1. Open Race - 6 laps

2. Junior Support - 5 laps

3. Supersport 600 - 6 laps

4. Classic - 5 laps

5. Lightweight (125GP/400/450) - 5 laps

6. Senior Support - 5 laps

7. 250GP/Supertwin 650 - 5 laps

8. Tandragee 100 Senior Open - 7 laps