As the 2020 Ulster Superbike season opener quickly approaches and the stories of who’s going to do what are rife, who are the names to watch out for?.
There could be half a dozen riders in contention and with an eye on the 2020 Championship.
Having spent a few years racing in England in the British Superbike and Dickies Supersport championships, Philips returned to local action in 2019. Last years USBK Championship winner Carl Phillips started his return to racing on this side of the Irish Sea by dominating the opening rounds with only one defeat out of the first thirteen races. However his run of wins stalled when Phillips split from the JMcC Roofing team. Following this he was forced to miss two rounds only to re-entered the championship running his own Suzuki GSXR 1000, an old under powered machine. Without another win in the in the remainder of the season his points lead depreciated race after race and the championship went down to the wire at Enniskillen where Phillips and Ali Kirk fought it out for the final points. Kirk took the win in the opening race with Phillips third and with the final race abandoned due the weather Phillips had done enough to save the Championship. For his 2020 campaign Phillips has got a new Suzuki GSXR 1000 to defend his championship and has to be up there as one of the favourites.
Dromara’s Ali Kirk was runner up in both 2018 and 2019 only losing out last year some would say to the weather after the final race of the season was cancelled at Enniskillen due to torrential rain as he homed in on Carl Phillips championship lead. With his experience racing at this level Kirk also has to be in with a shout of lifting this years championship. Racing his AKR McCurry Motorsport BMW S1000RR his consistency in scoring points has to make him a good candidate for the championship win.
One of the most experienced riders in the Ulster Superbike paddock Kinghan who won the championship in 2018, will be racing in his second season with the IFS Global Logistics team. With an up and down 2019 season behind him as he got used to the Yamaha R1, swapping from Kawasaki machinery. His experience should see him well for the season ahead and rank him up there as a championship favourite.
Starting his fourth season in the superbike class Armstrong will again be on his Hunky Dory Suzuki GSXR 1000. After taking his first win on a superbike last year and lifting the coveted Norman Brown Memorial Trophy at the same time. Serveral podium finishes also came in 2019 and a final standing of third in the championship puts Armstrong well within a shout of pushing on for the 2020 championship.
Jason Lynn, a four time Supersport Champion is making the step up to the Superbike class this year Racing an ex Burrows Engineering/ RK racing Suzuki GSXR 1000, which was unveiled last weekend. Pedigree in the smaller class provides hope that his success will continue into the premier class. Already Lynn has made a very impressive start to his big bike career with a fourth place finish in his first outing in earnest at the Sunflower Trophy at the end of last year. Lynn could really shock more than a few people the aim is to push for podiums and wins in his rookie superbike season.
After a few traumatic years and some pretty bad injuries Nico can never be written off. He returned with an emotional win at Kirkistown last season, his first since his run of bad accidents. For 2020 Nico has switched to BMW machinery and will be hoping for a clear run of races where he too could be a contender for a few more podium top steps.
Other contenders hoping for a podium finish or even a win could be Ryan Gibson, Barry Graham, Stephen McCdoo and
Gary McCoy to name but a few.
The scene is set for some first class racing in 2020.
The 10 round championship kicks off in March with confirmed dates below.
March 21st Temple Club Bishopscourt Racing Circuit
April 11th MCRRI Club Bishopscourt Racing Circuit
April 13th Belfast and District Kirkistown
June 6th Belfast and District Kirkistown
June 27th – 28th Enniskillen St Angelo
July 18th – 19th Mid Antrim Bishopscourt Racing Circuit
August 22nd Bishopscourt Bishopscourt Racing Circuit
September 5th Belfast and District Kirkistown
September 19th -20th MCRRCI Bishopscourt Racing Circuit
October 3rd – 4th UC Sports Promotion Bishopscourt Racing Circuit