Dublin’s Derek Sheils is off to pastures new this season after joining BikeBits NI Racing to ride Kawasaki machinery.
Sheils, who has previously rode for Chris Dowd in recent seasons, will contest selected Irish national road races plus the Isle of Man TT and Ulster Grand Prix as the Co Down-based team switches to the roads full-time in 2015.
The 2013 Irish Superbike road racing champion will also contest the Adelaide Masters Series on Kawasaki ZX-10R and ZX-6R machinery.
Sheils – who won the Adelaide Masters Superbike title in 2013 – will return to the TT in June after withdrawing from the meeting last year, apparently after being affected by a number of racing incidents in the run up to the event.
BikeBits NI owner Jonny Annett said: “I’m really excited for the 2015 season now.
“We’ve got a top class rider, really good bikes and I think that we’ll have a really strong package all round. I sat down with Derek a couple of weeks ago and we worked out a deal.
“It’ll be a new challenge for us as a team, especially with the road racing, but I’m looking forward to the season and getting stuck in.
“A massive thanks to all of our sponsors, both those who have been with us for many years and also those new who have came on board for 2015.”
The team will also run Daniel Annett in the Irish Short Circuit Supertwin championship on a Suzuki SV650 this year.
Meanwhile, Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea is optimistic of his prospects for the opening World Superbike round at Phillip Island in Australia next month after a successful test at Jerez in Spain.
Rea posted the third quickest lap in 1m 39.745s behind team-mate Tom Sykes (1m 39.694s) and Ducati rider Davide Giugliano (1m 39.332s).
“We were able to evaluate lots of things. I tried quite a lot of geometries and changing the balance of the bike quite a lot,” said the 27-year-old.
“We never found a big difference in lap time, even when we were radically changing the bike.
“We found a big step forward with the engine management and electronics on the afternoon of the second day and I was able to improve my lap time quite a bit.
“That filled me full of joy and confidence. I was able to do a race simulation at this test and I understood how the bike behaves when the tyre drops.
“I think we have the right tools in the garage to be in good shape when the lights go out at Phillip Island.”
British Supersport riders Glenn Irwin and Andy Reid have joined the list of guests for this weekend’s Comber Motorcycle Show.
Gearlink Kawasaki star Irwin and young prospect Reid, who will ride for Keith Flint’s Team Traction Control outfit this season, will join Mar-Train Racing’s Dean Harrison at the event, which takes place at Comber 1st Presbyterian Church tonight from 5pm-10pm and tomorrow from 10am-5pm.
Bradford rider Harrison will be in attendance this evening from 8pm to participate in a chat show along with Woolsey Coulter, Gary Cowan, Raymond McCullough and Adrian Craig.
A display of bikes and trade stands plus an auto-jumble will also feature at the popular two-day event.
Proceeds from the show will go to several charities including the Injured Riders Association and the Cancer Fund for Children.