By Kyle White, Belfast Newsletter
Cork’s Mike Browne has set himself a minimum target of finishing on the rostrum at this weekend’s KDM Hire Cookstown 100.
The Burrows Engineering/RK Racing rider made his debut for John Burrows’ team at the Co Tyrone meeting in 2020, where he finished fourth in the Supersport race.
Browne will be the Dungannon-based team’s sole representative at the 2.1-mile Orritor course after Magherafelt man Paul Jordan left team last month, following an amicable parting of ways in the wake of the Armoy Road Races.
With a number of top names set to miss the final Irish road race of the year this weekend, including Michael Dunlop, Derek Sheils and Derek McGee, Browne says he won’t be happy with anything less than top-three results in the Supersport class.
“Come Saturday evening, realistically I’d want podiums on the 600, although I’m not sure what to expect on the big bike,” said Browne, who concentrated solely on the Yamaha R6 when he raced at Cookstown last September.
“But I wouldn’t really be happy with anything less than a podium in the Supersport races to be honest, especially with a few of the main riders missing this weekend.
“With all the work John and the team have put in this year, it’d be nice to try and pay them back with some good results at Cookstown.”
Browne took part in the recent Dunlop Masters round at Mondello Park in Co Kildare and last weekend’s Ulster Superbike meeting at Kirkistown in Co Down, where he warmed up for his return to the roads following the Armoy meeting at the end of July.
“It was good to get out at Kirkistown and also to get another run on the big bike, so we’re happy enough,” he said.
“We had a few issues with the Supersport bike but we did the Masters round at Mondello Park and then Kirkistown, so we seem to have the bike spot-on now for Cookstown.
“I’ve come away from those two races with a good bit of confidence now leading up to Cookstown. Everything was new to me last year at Cookstown – the bikes, the team and everything else – so I don’t have any excuses this time!”
Team boss Burrows said he is optimistic Browne will be in contention for the rostrum on Saturday after two confidence-building outings at Mondello and Kirkistown.
“We went to Kirkistown at the weekend to give Mike the chance to transition between both bikes, and plus it was convenient for the team because we could arrive on the Friday night, race on Saturday and then come home on Saturday night, which was a plus,” he said.
“But the main reason was to offer Mike the opportunity to be able to ride the Yamaha R6 and Suzuki GSX-R1000 back-to-back, which is not something we’ve really done this year, with the exception of Armoy.
“It was actually the first time that he ever raced at Kirkistown, albeit he has done plenty of test days there.
“Mike did personal best times on both bikes and finished fourth in the Supersport race and fifth in the Ulster Superbike race, so he ticked all the boxes for us.
“He will be our sole rider for Cookstown and we’re putting full focus on him,” added Burrows.
“Mike’s in a good frame of mind and I believe he will do a good job. It will be hard to top the class in any race but hopefully Mike will be in there fighting for the podium and I know he always gives it everything he’s got.”
Burrows’ son Jack, who made a winning debut in the FIM MiniGP series at Mondello Park, will also be in action this weekend at the fourth round of the championship at Athboy on Sunday.