Irish Superbike series bursts back into action at Bishopscourt

Alistair Kirk will look to maintain his lead in the Irish Superbikes
Alistair Kirk will look to maintain his lead in the Irish Superbikes

The Irish Superbike Championship roars back into life this weekend with the Temple club’s meeting at Bishopscourt in Co Down.

Lisburn’s David Haire, who has been competing in the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship this season, is entered along with Adelaide Masters champion Derek Sheils on the BikeBits NI Kawasaki, Waterford man Brian McCormack, Gerard Kinghan, Jamie Patterson and Alan Kenny.

Dromara’s Alistair Kirk will be aiming to maintain his championship lead and holds a slim advantage of nine points over Declan Hoey, with Phillip McNally also in contention, six points further behind.

Ryan Rainey, who made his return to short circuit racing this year after a lengthy absence, is also entered.

The Supersport class will be equally hotly contested tomorrow as Robert Kennedy and Robert English continue their battle for supremacy at the top of the championship, with the pair separated only by six points.

Jason Lynn will also be hoping to make up some ground on the leading duo, while Jamie and Ross Patterson, Christian Elkin, Korie McGreevy, Nikki Coates, Sheils, Connor Parkhill and Luke Johnston add extra depth to a quality field.

The 16-race programme tomorrow also features the Lightweight, 650cc Supertwins, Pre Injection, Superbike and Supersport Cup races.

More than 150 entries have been received for the Co Down meeting and an excellent day’s racing is in store.

Practice is scheduled to get under way from 9am with the first race pencilled in for approximately 11.30am.

Admission is £10, with children under the age of 16 admitted free.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s Eugene Laverty ended the first day of free practice for the eighth round of the MotoGP World Championship at Assen in 17th place on the Aspar Honda, one position ahead of team-mate Nicky Hayden.Laverty, who has scored points at the previous three rounds of the series, has finally received the new Honda swingarm that Hayden has been using at the recent rounds of the championship.

“I’ve won races at Assen in both the World Supersport and Superbike championships so I’ll be gunning for a top finish there in MotoGP,” Laverty said.

“We found our way again at the previous round in Barcelona and I’m feeling full of confidence again.

“The team continue to support me 100 per-cent plus Honda have stepped in to help us move forward which I’m extremely grateful for. Everything’s really starting to come together now.”

Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa headed the times yesterday with a lap in 1m 33.450s to go top by 0.139s from team-mate Marc Marquez, with championship leader Valentino Rossi third fastest on the Movistar Yamaha M1.

Ducati’s Andrea Iannone was next ahead of British rider Cal Crutchlow on the CWM LCR Honda, with Jorge Lorenzo completing the top six on the second of the Movistar Yamaha machines.

Lorenzo has closed the gap to Rossi at the top of the championship to a single point after winning the last four races and is gunning for a sensational fifth straight premier class success on Saturday at the legendary Dutch circuit.