WELCOME RETURN TO ACTION FOR BRUCE ANSTEY AT THE CLASSIC TT
After the frustrations of Saturday’s truncated session, the 2019 Classic TT Races presented by Bennetts roared into life this evening shortly after the scheduled 6.20pm start.
The headlines were made by two established TT stars. Dean Harrison, who picked up where he left off in June when he won the Dunlop Senior TT, with the fastest lap of the evening on his Silicone Engineering Classic Superbike and Bruce Anstey, who put a two-year absence with illness behind him with the fastest lap in the Dunlop Lightweight Classic TT class.
The Superbikes and Lightweight machines were first out on the TT Mountain Course. Harrison, who has won the last two RST Classic TT Superbike Races, was first away on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki with Michael Rutter alongside him on the Team Winfield Yamaha. The first pair were followed ten seconds later by James Hillier on the Oxford Products Ducati and Jamie Coward on the Prez Racing Kawasaki.
Rain had been reported earlier in the evening, but the cautionary lack of adhesion flags didn’t seem to dampen spirits or lap speeds. Harrison’s standing start opening lap of the meeting (123.42mph) topped the board on the night before the Bradford rider came in at the end of his opening lap, pointing at a loose exhaust. Harrison switched machines and headed straight out on his Lightweight bike – the Laylaw Racing Yamaha - and promptly clocked a lap of 114.28mph, which was second only to Anstey, before coming in with a quickshifter issue.
After the session Harrison talked about the challenge of switching from his BSB Superbike:
“I’ve come straight from Cadwell and BSB to the Classic TT. The ZXR isn’t such a big jump but riding the 250 is chalk and cheese. I’ve not got much experience of the two-stroke but you’ve got to respect the little thing because it will bite you.”
Lichtenstein based rider Horst Saiger clocked an average speed of 118mph on his opening lap and then improved this to 122.87mph – the second fastest on the night - while Derek Shiels and Jamie Coward both posted 118mph+ opening laps with Coward improving to 120.70 which put him third on the overall Superbike leaderboard.
Early retirements on the opening lap included Paul Jordan on the Mistral Racing Kawasaki, who stopped at Ballacrye and Lee Johnston on his Lightweight Binch Racing Yamaha at Douglas Road Corner, while Gary Johnson (Team York Suzuki) retired on his second lap of the Superbike session at Quarterbridge.
Anstey put a two year TT Mountain Course absence behind him and blasted to an opening lap of 110.84 on the Padgetts Yamaha, while Daniel Sayle on the John Chapman Racing Honda showed that he had recovered from injuries sustained at last year’s Classic TT with an opening lap of 109.90mph.
Ten-time TT Race winner Ian Lougher also showed his hand with an opening lap of 109.37mph which he improved to 112mph on his second lap, while Harrison’s opening lap of 114.28mph put him at the top of the Lightweight leaderboard. But Bruce Anstey was not to be overshadowed on his come back and promptly set 116.28mph on his second lap.
After the lap Bruce Anstey said: “It was great to get out and on the second lap things clicked and it felt like normal and as though I’d never been away.”
Back in the paddock, an elated Milenco by Padgetts Motorcycles team boss Clive Padgett said:
“I’m just over the moon. We said to Bruce before the lap if you’re not feeling it we’ll pick you up at Ballacraine. He’s loving life – it’s incredible. He was smiling from the off and all the fans are so pleased to see him back and we’ve had so many great comments.”
The Junior and Senior machines were away shortly after ten past seven with Team Winfield rider John McGuinness on the twin-cylinder Paton and Ripley Land Racing’s Michael Rutter on the single-cylinder Matchless jostling for position alongside each other on the start line.
However, shortly after the second session began, the session was red flagged following an incident at the Black Hut. The rider concerned was taken by airmed to Nobles Hospital with a reported leg injury and riders were brought back to the Grandstand in course direction under the direction of Travelling Marshals.
With the lost time and light fading at the Grandstand, the second session for Senior and Junior machines and the scheduled Newcomers session was cancelled.
MICHAL DOKOUPIL SET TO MAKE CLASSIC TT DEBUT
Popular Czech international road racer Michal "Indi" Dokoupil will make his Classic TT debut this year competing in the RST Superbike race.
He will be riding the Cookson Racing Durex Suzuki 750F1 machine as ridden last year by Sam West to 8th place.
Indi has had a very busy year competing at the TT as well as the Czech and Irish roads, where he returned from the Ulster grand Prix with victory in the Ultra Lightweight class aboard his Ariane moto 3.
Although a newcomer to the Classic TT, Indi has a wealth of experience around the mountain course where he has raced since 2009 as a privateer with excellent results along the way, and is hopeful for good weather to get plenty of practice laps on the Suzuki 750 machine.
As well as competing Indi will also be supporting Veronika Hankocyova who is racing the Mark Coverdale Paton S1-R in the MGP Lightweight.
BRIAN REID RECEIVES SPECIAL MEDAL
Brian Reid wrote his name into the Southern 100 history books when he became the first rider to lap the 4.25-mile Colas Billown Course, as it is now known, at over 100 miles per hour during the ‘Unlimited’ race in 1983 on the Topping Racing RG500 Suzuki and then went on to win that year’s Southern 100 Solo Championship race.
At the 2019 Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Southern 100 Road Races the popular Ulsterman completed a number of laps around the course on the RG500, which had been fully restored by the machine’s new owner, Clarissa Beadman of Silicone Engineering Racing.
To commemorate the achievement of the first 100mph lap 36 years ago, Japanese Company, CSA who provide all winners of road races organised by the Southern 100 Club with unique Medallions and Championship Rings designed a special Commemorative medal and presented it to Brian Reid at the completion of his laps on Championship Day.
Banbridge man Brian Reid of course went to gain more fame during his elite road racing career, winning two Formula 2 World Championships in 1985 and 1986, plus five TT races between 1986 and 1993 before hanging up his leathers in 1994.
Photo by Lidia Lewska
DUNDROD RECLAIMS WORLD’S FASTEST ROAD RACE TITLE ON A FANTASTIC AFTERNOON OF ACTION AT THE 2019 fonaCAB ULSTER GRAND PRIX
Thursday afternoon saw the start of race action at the 2019 fonaCAB Ulster Grand Prix with a feast of high speed action that saw Dundrod reclaim it’s title as the world’s fastest road race.
Peter Hickman set a new outright lap record of 136.415mph on his way to victory in the Superbike race aboard the Smith’s S1000RR BMW.
The new record is 2.6 seconds faster than the old mark and almost 1 mph quicker than his TT record of 135.452mph.
“I was struggling to pass Dean in the early stages as he was really fast in a straight line and we’re down a bit on top speed.” the world’s fastest road racer said.
“I got a really good run out of the last corner and used the slipstream perfectly along the Flying Kilo so I knew if I could get to Deer’s Leap in front, I’d have a good chance of getting away. Once I got the clear track, I could ride my own lines, rather than Dean’s, and I hit all my markers so was able to pull away.”
“We don’t have the fastest bike out there but we do have a very good package so it’s great to get the win and get the outright lap record back for myself, the team and BMW.”
Conor Cummins posted the highest speed ever recorded at Dundrod when he broke the beam on the speed trap on the Flying Kilo at 202.8mph on the Milenco Padgett’s Honda Fireblade. Cummins finished third in the race with Dean Harrison taking the runner slot on the Silicone Kawasaki. The race was red flagged on the final lap when Sam West crashed without injury at Quarry Bends and his BMW burst into flames.
Hickman went on to make it a double with victory in the Supersport race later in the evening on his Trooper Beer Triumph, winning a huge tussle with Lee Johnston on the Ashcourt Racing Yamaha. Harrison was third on the Silicone Kawasaki.
Paul Jordan took his first international race win in the Supertwins race on the RC Express, Dafabet Devitts Kawasaki, finishing just 0.092 seconds ahead of Joe Loughlin on a Team ILR/ Coverdale Paton. Jamie Coward was third on the KTS Racing Kawasaki.
The Lightweight race was won by Neil Kernohan on the Logan Yamaha just 0.06 seconds ahead of Davy Morgan (Honda) with Paul Williams (Yamaha) in third.
Czech racer Michal Dokoupil repeated his 2018 victory in the Ultra Lightweight race aboard his Ariane machine with Christian Elkin 1.5 seconds back on the Wylie Honda. Melissa Kennedy was the only female rostrum finisher of the day aboard her KNR Honda in third.
PRECISE PETER HICKMAN UNOFFICIALLY BREAKS OUTRIGHT LAP RECORD DURING SUPERBIKE QUALIFYING AT 2019 FONACAB ULSTER GRAND PRIX
Peter Hickman has unofficially broken the existing outright lap record for the Dundrod circuit during today’s Superbike qualifying session at the 2019 fonaCAB Ulster Grand Prix.
The Smith’s BMW rider was 0.52 seconds inside the record as he claimed pole position with a speed of 134.969mph. Hickman demonstrated metronomic precision as he put in eight successive laps with five of those being over 134mph. Such was his pace, Hickman finished 2.49 seconds faster than Dean Harrison (Silicone Kawasaki) who was second quickest.
Harrison lapped at 133.287mph, 2.02 seconds ahead of third fastest Conor Cummins (Milenco Padgett’s Honda).
Derek Sheils, who has been doing most of the winning in the superbike class at the Irish National races this summer, posted a lap at 130.626mph on the RK Racing/Burrows Suzuki to claim a second row spot alongside Lee Johnston. The Ashcourt Racing BMW rider was 1.9 seconds faster than Shiels.
David Johnson (Honda Racing), Phil Crowe (Jackson Air Con BMW) and Jamie Coward (Prez Yamaha) filled the next three places on the timesheets, ahead of 9th quickest, Michael Dunlop (Tyco BMW) who was 8.8 second slower than Hickman’s time. Waterford’s Brian McCormack completed the top ten on his ON-1 Racing BMW. Davey Todd only managed two laps on the Wepol Penz13.com BMW, the quickest at 127.215mph, before returning to the pits and retiring from the session.
HICKMAN TOPS SUPERBIKE TIMES AT ULSTER GRAND PRIX
Peter Hickman was in top form today at the 2019 FonaCAB Ulster Grand Prix. The Smith’s Racing rider topped the opening Superbike qualifying times to lay down an impressive early marker.
Organisers were forced to navigate some trying weather conditions in order to accommodate the timed sessions as heavy showers plagued proceedings.
Hickman once more underlined his road racing pedigree as the Englishman ended the session almost five seconds clear of Manx rider Conor Cummins. Hickman’s best time of 3:23.022 came just before the session was red flagged due to adverse weather setting in. Cummins, onboard the Milenco by Padgetts Honda, posted a time of 3:27.785 which was good enough to secure second place.
Davey Todd, riding for the Penz13.com on BMW machinery, finished in a highly respectable third place one second down on Cummins with Ashcourt Racing’s Lee Johnston qualifying in fourth place. 2019 Isle Of Man Senior TT winner Dean Harrison was fifth fastest posting a time of 3:29.157 and he was followed by Burrows Engineering / RK Racing rider Derek Sheils.
Next up in seventh and eighth places were local riders Paul Jordan and Michael Dunlop, and in ninth place was Honda Racing’s David Johnson. Rounding out the top ten was Prez Racing’s Jamie Coward.
PROVISIONAL POLE FOR PAUL JORDAN
Paul Jordan qualified the Dafabet Devitt Racing Kawasaki on pole in the first of the two planned Supertwins qualifying sessions. The Magherafelt rider had to fight off the advances of Castleblaney’s Joe Loughlin who was riding a Paton machine. Just over half a second separated the two riders with Jamie Coward finishing third fastest overall.
Lee Johnston qualified fourth, a second slower than Coward, and he was followed by Christian Elkin in fifth. Newly crowned Irish Supertwins Champion Michael Sweeney was sixth quickest, four tenths ahead of seventh fastest rider Jonathan Perry. Ian Lougher, Xavier Denis and James Chawke rounded out the top ten.
Lightweight specialist Neil Kernohan finished first in the lightweight session with Czech rider Michal Dokoupil securing provisional pole in the Ultra-Lightweight class.
More qualifying action will begin on Thursday morning ahead of a four race schedule beginning after qualifying has finished.
TODD STARTS FROM NUMBER 1 AS DUNLOP LIGHTWEIGHT NUMBERS ARE RELEASED
Davey Todd will line up as number 1 in the Dunlop Lightweight Classic TT for the Milenco by Padgetts Motorcycles team, with teammate Bruce Anstey making a welcome return to TT action in the class and starting at his customary number 5.
Clive Padgett’s team has won every year since the class – primarily for 250cc 2-stroke race machines – was introduced to the Classic TT presented by Bennetts in 2016, with the returning Anstey triumphant in 2016 and 2017 and Lee Johnston taking the honours 12 months ago.
However, this year will be the first occasion that the team has fielded two machines, with rising star Todd and the seasoned Anstey on a pair of Honda RS250s. The combination of rider talent, machine preparation and proven pedigree means the Padgetts team will line up as hot favourites for victory, and whilst Anstey’s competitive return to racing is a triumph in itself, don’t be surprised to see the 250cc lap record holder make a fairy-tale return to the Classic TT podium.
Reigning Dunlop Senior TT champion, Dean Harrison lines up at number 2 on the first of three Laylaw Racing Yamaha TZ250s, with teammate Ian Lougher starting from number 3. Harrison made his debut in the class in 2018 and while he wasn’t able to challenge for victory in 2018, he finished just off the podium with a fourth-place finish. Meanwhile, Lougher has stood on the rostrum in each running of the Lightweight Classic TT, taking second place in 2016 and 2017 and a third place in 2018. Phil Harvey lines up on the third yellow and white Laylaw machine at number 12.
Michael Rutter is set to start at number 4, but the seven-time TT winner and two-time Classic TT winner has yet to reveal what machine he will be riding, having previously ridden a 750 Ducati in the class.
Joey Thompson – starting at number 6 – is the first of a three-man fleet of Honda RS250s for John Chapman Racing, with teammates Dan Sayle and Ryan Kneen starting at numbers 10 and 11 respectively.
2-stroke specialist Gary Vines will start at number 7 on one of the three Binch Racing Yamaha TZ250s. With a personal best lap speed just shy of 115mph, the 29-year old could provide an upset for the established TT riders further up the field.
Vines is joined in David Binch’s team by Jamie Coward starting at number 8 and last year’s winner Lee Johnston, who starts at number 13 having made the switch from Padgetts Honda to the Binch Racing Yamaha. Johnston will be onboard the same TZ250 that Adam McLean finished second on – behind Johnston – 12 months ago. To date, it is the closest that any rider or machine has come to besting the dominant Padgetts Motorcycles team and, with Johnston onboard, will surely be their toughest opposition to date.
Photo by RC Photos
EXHILARATING ACTION IN PROSPECT AT THE FONACAB ULSTER GRAND PRIX
Next week’s FonaCAB Ulster Grand Prix brings with it a sense of anticipation and excitement that can only come from seeing bikes racing wheel-to-wheel around the magnificent and free-flowing 7.3 mile Dundrod course.
This year all the major protagonists are expected to line-up on the grid in a bid to add their name to the illustrious history of the Ulster Grand Prix.
Last year’s double winner Peter Hickman returns to Dundrod fresh off the back of a truly memorable showing at this year’s Isle Of Man TT. Now firmly established as one of the sport’s brightest stars, Hickman has been in unyielding form of late and has made the Dundrod circuit his own over the past few seasons.
Hickman’s great rival, Dean Harrison, is certainly no slouch around the Dundrod circuit having captured the outright lap record back in 2017 in what was one of the most memorable Ulster Grand Prix events in recent memory. Harrison will arrive at Dundrod as the 2019 Senior TT winner and will most certainly start as a favourite for honours across all classes in which he contests.
Another rider who always seems to perform at Dundrod is Milenco by Padgetts rider Conor Cummins. The Manx man won last year’s Supersport race and has been in good form this season so he cannot be discounted when considering potential race winners. Conor’s teammate Davey Todd is another rider who is rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with. Todd will also be riding for the Penz13.com team onboard BMW machinery. The Englishman has shown a real knack for mastering circuits quickly and won his first international race at this year’s North West 200.
Homegrown riders Lee Johnston and Michael Dunlop will be in attendance. Johnston, fresh off his maiden Isle Of Man TT victory, lines up with the Ashcourt Racing team and will be keen to add more silverware to his collection when racing commences.
Ballymoney man Michael Dunlop has been plagued by injuries so far this season but the Tyco BMW rider showed real tenacity when he claimed a Superbike double at Armoy two weeks ago and if he is fully fit then only a fool would bet against the 19-time TT winner walking away with some silverware.
Dafabet Devitt Racing’s Paul Jordan is another local rider who is expected to be a contender although the Magherafelt man’s best chance of victory may come in the Supertwins class onboard the team’s ‘trick’ Kawasaki machine. Another local rider, Neil Kernohan, is expected to go well in the Lightweight class and could well repeat his win from last year.
With other top contenders such as Honda Racing’s David Johnson, Jamie Coward, Gary Dunlop, Michael Sweeney, Dominic Herbertson, Derek Sheils, Brian McCormack and Philip Crowe amongst others, this year’s Ulster Grand Prix is shaping up to be one to remember.
WELCOME RETURN TO RACING IN COUNTY CORK
Racing returned to County Cork last weekend with the welcome return to the calendar of the Munster 100 Road Races.
It has been five years since racing has been held at the Glanmire Circuit so full credit must go to the hosting club for the hard work and dedication it has taken to revive this race meeting.
Adverse weather on Saturday resulted in all practice and qualifying sessions being untimed and it was announced that grid positions would be taken from the current Irish Championship standings.
Ulster Superbike Champion Derek Sheils added the Irish Superbike crown as he scored a superb premier class double. The Burrows Engineering/ RK Racing rider has been in scintillating form this season and he once more underlined his pedigree finishing ahead of Michael Sweeney in both Superbike encounters. In the Open Race Thomas Maxwell finished third whereas in the Grand Final it was Ray Casey who took the final podium place.
Michael Sweeney was to go one better in the day’s only 600cc affair taking a relatively comfortable win finishing nine seconds clear of Stephen Casey with Paul Fallon in third.
There was to be further joy for Sweeney who won the Supertwin race and with it, he wrapped up the Irish Championship. Ballymoney man Darryl Tweed finished second in the race with Vinny Brennan in third onboard his TRB Suzuki machine.
Brennan, as he has done most of the season, was dominant in the Junior Support race taking victory by a margin of 3.6s over second placed rider John Ella with Anthony Lillis finishing in third. Dermot Cleary was to continue his rich vein of form by securing victory in the Senior Support race. Armoy victor Tommy Henry finished in second place with John O’Donovan r ounding out the podium places.
Classic honours went to Brian Mateer (C250), Ed Manly (C350), Barry Davidson (C500), Richard Ford (C1000).
There was a win for David Howard in the
Lightweight Support Class. Howard totally dominated proceedings finishing almost forty seconds. Sean Leonard took a 125cc class win for Mago Racing.
Photo by Donal Glackin
SHEILS AND SWEENEY SCORE BRACE OF WINS AT MUNSTER 100
Derek Sheils and Michael Sweeney each came away from the Munster 100 Road Races with two wins apiece to cap off a successful weekend for the Irishmen.
Sweeney notched up a win in the only Supersport race of the weekend finishing ahead of Stephen Casey in second place and Paul Fallon in third. In the Supertwins race Sweeney claimed victory onboard the Keily Heating backed machine and with it, he wrapped up the 2019 Irish Supertwins Championship.
Derek Sheils was also in championship winning form having already secured the Ulster Superbike championship at Armoy. Sheils’s two wins at Glanmire were good enough for the Burrows Engineering / RK Racing rider to be crowned Irish Superbike Champion for 2019.
The Suzuki mounted rider took a Superbike double at Cork with wins in the Open race and the Grand Final. Michael Sweeney finished second in both races to cap off a vintage weekend for both riders.
IAN HUTCHINSON SET TO MISS THE ULSTER GRAND PRIX
Honda Racing’s Ian Hutchinson will sit out next week’s FonaCAB Ulster Grand Prix. The multiple Ulster Grand Prix winner has underwent surgery to remove a metal plate from his leg and is in recovery.
Hutchinson has been fighting his way back to form following a crash in the 2017 Senior TT which saw the ‘Bingley Bullet’ sustain serious injuries to his leg. This will be the second year in succession that Hutchinson will miss racing at Dundrod.
Honda Racing teammate David Johnson will contest next week’s event and the Japanese manufacturer will also have representation with the Milenco by Padgett’s duo of Conor Cummins and Davey Todd.
The FonaCAB Ulster Grand Prix ‘Bike Week’ runs from the 5th-10th August. Practice and racing sessions around the 7.3-mile Dundrod circuit are scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. Wristbands can be purchased from the Ulster Grand Prix website at:
TOP 20 REVEALED FOR BENNETTS SENIOR CLASSIC TT
The top twenty seeded riders for the opening race of the Classic TT presented by Bennetts, the Bennetts Senior Classic TT, have been announced today.
As in previous years, the top twenty is made of a combination of regular TT front runners and Classic Racing specialists on a variety of single cylinder machines such as Norton and Matchless, twin cylinder bikes including Honda and Paton, plus hi-revving triples and four-cylinder bikes from MV Agusta and Honda.
First away is 2018 and 2016 winner, John McGuinness, who lines up on the Team Winfield Paton once again. With the exception of 2017 when he was forced out by injury, the 23-time TT winner has campaigned Roger Winfield’s machine every year since the inaugural Classic TT in 2013. With 4 valves per cylinder, the twin cylinder Paton’s enjoy a significant power advantage over the rest of the field and with McGuinness onboard, will start as hot favourite for the race win.
Dean Harrison, the reigning Dunlop Senior TT champion, returns to the 500cc class following his absence in 2018 and will start at number 2 on board the LSS Waste Management Norton for the first time, having previously won the 2015 encounter onboard an MV Agusta.
He’s followed by the experienced pairing of 2015 race winner Ian Lougher (John Chapman Racing/MV Agusta) and Michael Rutter (Ripley Land Racing/Matchless) at number 3 and number 4 respectively.
James Hillier starts from number 5 with his regular CSC Racing team on their Honda 500-4 and is set to be followed by Michael Dunlop at his customary number 6, but the four-time Classic TT race winner has yet to announce what machine he will ride.
Number 7 is Maria Costello onboard the Beugger Racing Paton. Costello finished third in the 2017 edition of the race and was battling for a podium position in 2018, before dropping down the order and retiring on the final lap.
Jamie Coward follows Costello at number 8, riding the Ted Woof/Craven Manx Norton on which he has taken three of his five previous Classic TT podiums. Coward has enjoyed a scintillating season so far, breaking the 130mph barrier for the first time at the Isle of Man TT Races fuelled by Monster Energy, taking his first TT podium in the Bennetts Lightweight Race, and winning the 2019 TT Privateer’s Championship following a string of top ten results.
Dominic Herbertson, winner of the 2018 Locate.im Junior Classic TT, starts at number 8 for Davies Motorsport onboard the only Yamaha TX500 in the field. His team mate, Lee Johnston, is onboard a Honda 500-4 and is back to his usual start number of 13 having started from 11 for the TT Races in June.
The top ten is completed by Chris Swallow on the Flitwick Motorcycles Royal Enfield, who finished less than four seconds off the podium in last year’s encounter.
Numbers 11 to 20 feature further classic racing talent in Alan Oversby (Ireland Honda/Honda) starting at number 11, the vastly experienced Bill Swallow onboard the only 500 Ducati for Gleve Racing/John Poyner at 14, and Michael Russell (Izzard Racing/Norton) starting from number 15. Danny Webb (Dunnell Racing) makes a return to TT Mountain Course action having missed the TT Races earlier this year and starts from number 12.
Honda Racing’s David Johnson is at number 14 but, like Dunlop, has yet to confirm what machine he will take to the start line on. Horst Saiger (Egli Motorradtechnik) and Derek Sheils (Greenhall Racing) start at 17 and 18, with Rob Hodson (Geoff Bates Racing) completing the top 20. Joey Thompson makes a return to Road Racing onboard the second John Chapman Racing MV Agusta, and slots in at 19.
Photo by RC Photos
SHEILS, SWEENEY AND CHAWKE AIMING TO KEEP IRISH EYES SMILING AT 2019 fonaCAB ULSTER GRAND PRIX
Derek Sheils is aiming to turn his brilliant form on the Irish National road racing scene into a strong international result at this year’s fonaCAB Ulster Grand Prix on August 3-10.
The RK Racing/Burrows Suzuki rider has won seven superbike races in a row in a run that included victories at Skerries, Kells, Walderstown and Faugheen during July and August.
“I’d really like a decent result at the Ulster this year.” the Dubliner said. “I just need Lady Luck to be on my side!”
Unlike almost all of his opposition, Sheils is hoping for some Dundrod rain to help reduce the power advantage of rivals like Peter Hickman and Dean Harrison.
“A bit of inclement weather can level things out a touch.” the 36 year old, who finished 4th in the wet superbike race at this year’s NW200, said.
“Wet conditions can help pull some of the fast boys back a bit and I can get stuck in.”
Sheils will also ride the Macau Roadhouse Honda in the Supersport races and will arrive at Dundrod race sharp after competing constantly throughout the summer in the National events. But the Dubliner is under no illusions as to how much stronger the opposition he faces at the Ulster will be.
“I’ve got around Dundrod at132mph.041mph on the old Suzuki in 2017 so the pace is there with the new bike for a top six result.” Sheils said.
“But it has to be up around 135mph if you want to make the top three.”
Sheils is at the forefront of a cohort of riders from the Republic of Ireland who are currently leading the way in Irish National road racing. Derek McGee has decided to sit out the rest of the season but 2018 Manx Grand Prix winner James Chawke will be a newcomer at Dundrod this year and Michael Sweeney will also be in the mix.
Chawke, from Rathkeale in Co Limerick, will line-up for the UGP Superbike, Superstock, Supersport and Supertwins races and must start as one of the favourites to win the top newcomer award.
“I’ve done a few laps of the course plus a bit of homework and I’m really looking forward to racing at Dundrod.” the 27 year old said.
Chawke won the 2018 Junior Manx GP and raced at this year’s TT, lapping at 123.9mph on his Chawke Racing GSXR Suzuki. His most impressive results have come in the Supertwins class on a Mark Coverdale Paton with an 11th place finish in the Lightweight TT and a brilliant 4th at the North West 200 in May.
“I think the Paton will be well suited to Dundrod and if I can match the result I had at the North West and be the fastest newcomer of the week I will go home happy.” the Limerick rider smiled.
Michael Sweeney won the recent Supertwins races at Skerries and Faugheen on the Kiely Heating Kawasaki he will race at the Ulster. The Skerries man will also ride in the Superbike and Superstock races on his MJR BMW S1000RR and Eamon Mulligan’s R6 Yamaha in the Supersport events.
“It has been a good season so far on the Irish roads and I surprised myself by beating some of the regulars at the recent Southern 100.” the 35 year old said.
Sweeney claimed three podium finishes, including a runner up spot in the Supertwins race, at Billown in just his second visit to the Manx meeting.
“I hope to be able to battle for a podium finish in the Twins race at the Ulster and a top six in the 600cc races.” Sweeney said. “My fastest Dundrod lap is 129.99mph so I definitely want to break the 130mph barrier too!”