Burrows Racing rider Mike Browne will be aiming to pick up where he left off as the first Irish short circuit race of 2021 takes place this weekend at Mondello Park.
The Co Kildare venue is hosting the opening round of the Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship, which is scheduled to take place over five rounds between now and October.
This weekend’s meeting will be held behind closed doors due to Covid-19 restrictions in place in the Republic of Ireland. The event organisers hope that some spectators will be able to attend the second event from July 24-25, but “cannot guarantee anything at present”.
As a result of the pandemic, only one Masters round took place in 2020, when Cork man Browne won all four races in the Supersport class.
The 31-year-old was retained by former racer John Burrows’ Dungannon-based team this season along with Magherafelt’s Paul Jordan, who is also in action at Mondello Park.
Team boss Burrows was forced to change his plans after the Barry Sheene Classic meeting at Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough was cancelled. The event in North Yorkshire was also set to take place this weekend, but was called off after a number of old buildings within the Oliver’s Mount venue were found to have ‘serious issues’ following an inspection by Scarborough Borough Council.
Both Browne and Jordan took part in the Spring Cup at Oliver’s Mount in May, which was the first UK road race of the year.
Browne said: “It was a great chance to really get to know the team at Scarborough and to finally get back on a bike again, so I was happy with that because we all seem to get on well.
“I think we’d have preferred doing another road race this weekend at Scarborough to help with the build-up to Armoy, but I’m looking forward to Mondello and we had a strong run out there last year, so hopefully we can be thereabouts again.”
With Armoy (July 30-31) and September’s rescheduled Cookstown 100 the only Irish road races on the cards in 2021, team boss Burrows has earmarked the Dunlop Masters Championship and Ulster Superbike rounds for his riders over the coming months.
The first short circuit race in Northern Ireland had been pencilled in for June 5 at Kirkistown in Co Down, but the organising Belfast and District Club postponed the meeting until Saturday, July 10 due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Burrows said: “We’re a road racing team first and foremost, but unfortunately we’re in a situation again this year where we don’t have much road racing to look forward to.
“The plan had been to go to Scarborough for the Barry Sheene Classic meeting, but with that being cancelled, we will now look at doing all of the Masters rounds.”
The line-up this weekend includes Richie Ryan, who is bidding for a fourth straight Superbike title, plus former champion Derek Sheils, Luke Johnston, Peter Moloney, Ray Casey and Michael Sweeney.
Qualifying and the first of the main races for the Superbike and Supersport classes takes place today, with a full race programme tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the opening race of the 2021 British Superbike Championship takes place at Oulton Park this afternoon (4.15pm) when Carrick brothers Glenn and Andrew Irwin will be gunning for glory.
Tomorrow’s two BSB races are at 1.45pm and 4.45pm.