Jamie Hamilton isn’t short on confidence as the new Cookstown B.E. Racing signing assesses his chances ahead of the KDM Hire Cookstown 100 on April 25.
The Ballyclare lad has been training hard over the winter months and after extensive testing on John Burrows’ machines in Spain and at Kirkistown in County Down, Hamilton can’t wait to get started as he aims to make amends for a topsy-turvy 2014, when the 24-year-old struggled at the beginning of the season on Wilson Craig’s Honda machines before injuring himself in a crash at the Skerries 100 in July, just as he was coming back into form.
Hamilton has taken over the ride Burrows’ outfit from Manxman Dan Kneen, who left to join the Millsport Suzuki team in a deal that collapsed before a wheel had been turned this season, with the Braddan contender eventually salvaging a plum ride in Clive Padgett’s Honda squad alongside Bruce Anstey.
The entry list for this month’s Cookstown meeting, which was officially launched last night at the Royal Hotel, is crammed with star names and big teams, including Tyco BMW’s William Dunlop and Guy Martin, Dean Harrison on the Mar-Train Yamahas, Milwaukee Yamaha/MD Racing’s Michael Dunlop, Derek McGee on Wilson Craig’s Hondas plus Derek Sheils on the BikeBits NI Kawasaki machines.
William Dunlop will also line up on the CD Racing/Ivan Curran Yamaha R6 in the Supersport class at the 2.1-mile Orritor circuit, but Hamilton fears no-one and believes he heads into the event with the best all-round package at his disposal.
“I think we’re heading into Easter Monday capable of good results but we’re going to Cookstown to win and we’re feeling confident,” Hamilton said.
“The line-up is really strong but a lot of riders are there on unproven packages; you’ve got Dean Harrison and Michael Dunlop on the new R1 and although we’ve all heard how great it is, in my eyes the chances of bringing it straight to a road race and being on it are slim.
“The Tyco BMW is the same and if you remember even Michael struggled with the bike at his first road race on it last year.
“TAS are obviously a very professional team but it’s not an easy job and I honestly feel that I’m on the best package for the first road race of the season and I’m really looking forward to it,” he added.
“The bike won last year at Cookstown with Dan, it’s fast through the speed trap and I’m happy with the handling of it, so I can’t wait.”
It promises to be an intriguing start to the 2015 road racing campaign in County Tyrone as many of the top contenders have their first run out on the roads in anger prior to the North West 200.
Roads close for practice on Friday, April 24 from 12 noon to 9.30pm and on Saturday, April 25 for racing between 10am and 7.30pm.
Hamilton, meanwhile, has confirmed that he will miss Saturday’s Enkalon Trophy meeting at Bishopscourt, opting instead to take in the Easter Monday event.
“We’ll be having a run out on Easter Monday at Kirkistown but we’re going to give Bishopscourt a miss on Saturday,” he said.
“There’s no reason why we’re not going on Saturday, it’s just that myself and John [Burrows] feel that we only need to one race and we both preferred to race on Monday as we’ve done a lot of testing.”