Tandragee 100 line-up announced at official launch event

Adam McLean joins Gerard Rice of  title sponsors, Around a Pound and Clerk of the Course, Anne Forsythe at Gosford Castle to launch the 2018 Tandragee 100.
Adam McLean joins Gerard Rice of title sponsors, Around a Pound and Clerk of the Course, Anne Forsythe at Gosford Castle to launch the 2018 Tandragee 100.

The countdown is on to the 58th Around A Pound Tandragee 100, which was launched on Tuesday night in Craigavon.

A quality line-up includes Derek Sheils, who won the sole Superbike race last year.

The Irishman lines up on the Cookstown B.E. Racing Suzuki along with new team-mate Davey Todd, who burst onto the road racing scene with an impressive debut last year at the Skerries 100.

Tyco BMW rider Dan Kneen is also understood to be in contention to race at the event, although there has been no official confirmation so far.

Guy Martin returns for the second year running. The Lincolnshire rider was back at Tandragee last year for the first time since 2005 as part of his preparations with Honda Racing for the Isle of Man TT.

Martin, though, will limit his racing exploits to the Classic race and is set to ride a home-built 750cc BSA Rocket 3.

William Dunlop, who finished second to Sheils in the Open Superbike race in 2017, misses Tandragee this year and will instead take in the Bennetts British Superbike meeting at Oulton Park on the Temple Golf Club Yamaha.

However, Sheils faces stiff opposition from Mullingar’s Derek McGee on his Kawasaki, plus new McAdoo Racing recruit Adam McLean from Tobermore.

Entries also include Michel Sweeney, Paul Jordan, Shaun Anderson and double Irish Support champion Joe Loughlin, plus Irish roads stalwarts Davy Morgan, Nigel Moore and Barry Davidson.

International competitors feature prominently with popular Czech duo Michal Dokoupil and Veronika Hankocyova joined by New Zealand’s Daniel Mettam, who will ride for Billy McKinstry.

Also entered are Germany’s Kenny Hinck, Chris Meyer, Mathias Winkenjohann and Vassilios Takos, plus Enrico Rocchi from Italy and Canadian competitor Mel Gantly.

Over 360 entries were received by the club, including 36 newcomers who will tackle the spectacular 5.4-mile Co Armagh course for the first time, which was voted as the fourth best roads venue in the world in 2013 behind the Isle of Man TT, Macau and Dundrod.

The female contingent is spearheaded by Yvonne Montgomery, Sarah Boyes, Veronika Hankocyova and Melissa Kennedy, plus newcomer Aileen Keenan.

A special ‘Spirit of Tandragee 100’ award has been introduced this year with permission from Italian rider Dario Cecconi’s family.

The 38-year-old was killed in a crash last year, with the remainder of the event cancelled as a result.

A club spokesperson said: “The Spirit of Tandragee 100 award will be presented in memory of Dario Cecconi.

“It will not be presented for being the first, the best; the fastest... but for demonstrating something truly wonderful – a willingness to go to great lengths without much support to participate, to live for the moment, proving that they are the heart and soul of Irish road racing at Tandragee, just like Dario did.”

A purse of £1,000 will go to the winner of the feature Tandragee 100 Superbike race.

The organisers have appealed to fans to support the event by purchasing a programme – one of the main revenue streams for the race – and by making a voluntary donation.

Practice will be held on Friday, May 4 with the main race bill taking place on Saturday, May 5.