Michael Sweeney hopeful of 'busy' season ahead despite decimated road racing calendar

Leading Irish road racer Michael Sweeney says he will be a familiar face at short circuit meetings on the domestic scene this year after vowing to take advantage of any track time available.

With most national road races cancelled along with the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT due to Covid-19, the Skerries man has been forced to look at other options for 2021.

Sweeney has ruled out the expensive alternative of competing in British championship rounds in the Superstock 1000 class and instead intends to take in as many rounds of the Ulster Superbike and Dunlop Masters Championships as he can fit in this season.

And the 39-year-old, who also hopes to compete in selected rounds of the International Road Racing Championship in Europe, says the likely addition to the entry lists of more diehard road racers could give the short circuit meetings some much-needed extra impetus.

Michael Sweeney (65) leads Thomas Maxwell (5) and Paul Jordan in the Superbike race at the 2020 Cookstown 100.

“You’ll have Derek Sheils and the McAdoo boys [Adam McLean and Darryl Tweed], and probably even Derek McGee because I can’t imagine he’d sit out another season without any racing, so it’ll be interesting,” said Sweeney.

“It’s just a case of getting track time this year because we did next to nothing last year.

“The British championship isn’t an option for me because you’ve got to be prepared to wreck a bike over there and ride at 110 per-cent, which would be okay if you had someone who was prepared to give you another bike.

“You can’t go to the British championship and ride at 90 per-cent, so instead I’ll do whatever short circuit races are on and any small road races that go ahead,” he added.

“Another thing will be the IRRC this year and we’re looking at Chimay, Horice and Frohburg if we’re able to travel to Europe in the summer. That will be my big focus if we’re able to do that and then the Macau Grand Prix at the end of the year.”

Sweeney, who rode his new Martin Jones Racing BMW S1000RR for the first time last season at the rescheduled Cookstown 100, finishing second in the sole Superbike race behind Derek Sheils, says he is confident the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix will take place in November.

The famous race at the former Portuguese colony in southern China did not go ahead in 2020 due to a lack of entries, primarily as a result of the requirement for competitors to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks on arrival in Macau prior to the event.

However, Sweeney said: “I’m confident we’ll get to Macau this year without the same level of quarantine they were looking for last year because by November, everyone should have the vaccine. It’ll probably be the case of showing that you’ve had the vaccine to get in without having to quarantine I would say.

“If things turn out as we’re planning them with the races in Ireland and the IRRC rounds, then we’ll actually be busy this year, which is what I’m hoping for.”

At present, the Armoy and Cookstown 100 road races remain scheduled to go ahead in July and September respectively, while the Skerries 100 in the Republic of Ireland is also planned for the first weekend in July.

The first short circuit race in Northern Ireland is set to take place at Kirkistown in Co Down on June 5.

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