Top Irish National road racer Derek Sheils has set himself a target of breaking into the top ten at the Isle of Man TT in 2018 after signing for the Penz13 BMW team.
The Dublin rider will continue his association with John Burrows’ Cookstown B.E. Racing outfit in the Superbike class at the smaller Irish meetings, but Sheils will switch to the Penz13 BMW for the TT, where he will contest the Superbike, Superstock and Senior races.
He will also compete for Rico Penzkofer’s team at several European road races, including Imatra in Finland and Frohburg in Germany, plus the 300 Corners of Gustav Havel event in the Czech Republic, which the team uses as a test for the TT.
The 33-year-old, who will miss the North West 200 in May, impressed Penzkofer as he filled in for Dan Kneen in the Joey Dunlop Open event at Frohburg, where the Manx rider was sidelined through illness.
Sheils’ performance at the Macau Grand Prix last month also convinced Penzkofer to join forces with the Irishman for the TT. He will also ride the BMW at Macau next year.
The multiple Irish roads champion expressed his gratitude to Burrows for his support over the deal and said he feels the BMW will enable him to make a step forward at the TT in particular next June.
“I am grateful for the support of John Burrows so far, giving me the opportunity to sign for the Penz13 team for the TT,” said Sheils.
“I enjoyed my stand-in race in Frohburg last September and felt that the BMW is the right bike to step up into the world’s top league of road racers.
“I quickly got the grip with the electronics that come along with the HP4 and I was surprised how well advanced their electronic suspension from Tractive Suspension actually is,” he added.
“I am obviously aiming high and hope to finish all the TT races within the top ten but also taking some race victories over in Europe.”
Promising Englishman Davey Todd will also ride for Burrows next season with a full complement of machinery at the national and international races.
Penzkofer’s BMW team enjoyed plenty of success this year, with Kneen securing a rostrum finish in the Superstock race at the TT, while Michael Rutter, Danny Webb and Alessandro Polita achieved multiple race wins and podiums in the International Road Racing Championship in Europe.
Kneen left the team to join Northern Ireland’s Tyco BMW squad for 2018 but in Sheils, Penzkofer has signed an able replacement.
“I didn’t know much about Derek until he joined us in Frohburg, but immediately saw that he would fit perfectly into the team and could be a good replacement for Dan Kneen,” Penzkofer said.
“His recent Macau GP pace convinced me even more and I took the opportunity to sign him right after the race. In Frohburg was actually the first time he rode a BMW with all the electronics.
“Our suspension engineer Eric Lindemann as well as our mechanic crew pointed out that he provides very good feedback. I enjoyed working with him and therefore hope that he can help us to further establish our team in real road racing in 2018.
“I am sure there is a lot to come from Derek in the near future.”