Dean Harrison is bidding to deliver a coveted Gold Cup victory for Ulster’s Mar-Train Racing team this weekend at Oliver’s Mount in North Yorkshire.
The Bradford rider missed the event last year through injury following a crash at the Ulster Grand Prix and returns to the English venue in high spirits after clinching the new YZF-R1M Superbike’s maiden roads success at the Spring Cup meeting back in April.
Harrison has an impressive record at Oliver’s Mount and chalked up double victories at the Spring Cup and Cock ’o The North events this season, but a triumph in Sunday’s feature race would undoubtedly top them all.
“We’ve gone well at Scarborough this year, the circuit seems to suit the new R1 and we’ve got a few wins under our belt already,” Harrison said.
“I missed the Gold Cup last year because of my wrist so I’m looking forward to getting back this weekend, the crowd and whole event is always mega.
“There are plenty of guys who can win races so it will be good fun. We’ve made more improvements to the big bike since the ‘Ulster’ as well so we should be on the pace.”
The 65th running of the Steve Henshaw Gold Cup meeting has the makings of a classic with a stunning line-up of road racing stars ready to battle it out.
Ivan Lintin dominated last year in the absence of circuit specialist Guy Martin, clinching six wins from seven starts and the RC Express Kawasaki rider will be eager to defend his crown.
Lincolnshire rider Martin, still feeling the effects of his huge crash in the Dundrod 150 Superbike race at the Ulster Grand Prix, is set to miss the event for the second year running but the organising Auto 66 Club has pulled together one of the best line-ups in recent memory nonetheless.
Isle of Man TT heavyweights John McGuinness, Michael Dunlop and Bruce Anstey add extra sparkle to the grid and all three will be aiming to complete the regular racing season on a high at the Oliver’s Mount circuit.
Dunlop became the only member of his legendary family to clinch the Gold Cup trophy after mastering the treacherous conditions on 2013, turning the tables on old rival Martin who had revelled in defeating Dunlop ‘in his own backyard’ at the Ulster Grand Prix weeks beforehand.
The 26-year-old, back in winning form at the Classic TT and Killalane meetings, doesn’t have the same strike rate at Scarborough as the likes of Martin or Lintin, but Dunlop can never be ruled out on his MD Racing BMW.
Morecambe’s McGuinness previously won the Gold Cup back in 1999 and lines up this weekend on the EMC2 Honda Fireblade, while Kiwi Anstey – who has never landed the coveted silverware – is also Honda-mounted on the Valvoline by Padgetts Racing CBR1000RR.
For once, though, the vastly experienced duo will head into a race meeting without the favourites tag, with young guns Lee Johnston and Harrison perhaps the riders most likely to come out on top in Sunday’s feature race along with Lintin.
Ulster GP hat-trick hero Johnston has enjoyed the best season of his relatively short career to date on the roads and is a major contender in the Supersport and Superbike classes on the East Coast/Burdens Triumph 675 and BMW S1000RR.
The entry also includes Ryan Farquhar – who won the trophy in 2011 – plus William Dunlop, Ian Lougher and James Cowton.