Richard Cooper set for Sunflower Trophy debut on Buildbase Suzuki

Nottingham rider Richard Cooper on the Buildbase Suzuki.
Nottingham rider Richard Cooper on the Buildbase Suzuki.

Bennetts British Superbike rider Richard Cooper will make his debut at this month’s Sunflower Trophy meeting on the Buildbase Suzuki.

The 35-year-old finished fifth last weekend in race two at Assen behind PBM Be Wiser Ducati’s Glenn Irwin.

Experienced Nottingham racer Cooper is currently 13th overall in the championship ahead of the final triple-header round at Brands Hatch (October 12-14).

A former British Superstock champion, Cooper is one of two riders who will compete for Stuart and Steve Hicken’s BSB team at the prestigious short circuit meeting, which traditionally pulls the curtain down on the Irish racing season.

The second competitor is yet to be officially confirmed, although an announcement is expected following the final BSB round.

Cooper has harboured a desire to compete at the event for some years but was prevented from making the trip across the Irish Sea due to other race commitments.

However, he will finally compete at Bishopscourt for the first time, when Cooper is confident of making a big impression.

He said: “The bike is good enough and I’m good enough, so there’s no reason why we can’t have a good go at it this year.”

Organised by Hillsborough & District Motorcycle Club, the Sunflower Trophy meeting will take place from October 19-20.

Carrickfergus man Glenn Irwin is the current holder of the famous old trophy, which he has won for the past two seasons on the PBM Be Wiser Ducati.

However, Irwin told the News Letter his final race on the Italian machine will be at Brands Hatch, although the 28-year-old said he might still compete at Bishopscourt in a different class.

Irwin will leave Paul Bird’s Ducati squad at the end of the season to make the switch to the JG Speedfit Kawasaki team, replacing BSB champion-elect Leon Haslam, who will team up with World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea in the factory Kawasaki team in 2019.

On Wednesday, it was finally confirmed that MotoGP rider Scott Redding would make his BSB debut next year for the PBM team on the brand new Ducati V4 machine. It was also confirmed that six-time champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne’s long association with Bird’s team is over.

Entries for the Sunflower meeting close on Saturday. The event will also host the final round of the Ulster Superbike Championship.

Northern Ireland’s Tyco BMW team will be represented at the Sunflower, with the rider line-up yet to be confirmed, while it is also expected that Essex man Danny Buchan will again stake his claim for the silverware.

Buchan claimed back-to-back victories in the feature race in 2014 and 2015 before Irwin thwarted his bid for a treble in 2016.