By Kyle White Belfast Newsletter
The prestigious Sunflower Trophy has been won by some of motorcycling’s greatest names over the past four decades.
Run by the Hillsborough Club, Ireland’s foremost short circuit meeting returns this weekend at Bishopscourt Racing Circuit near Downpatrick in County Down after a three-year absence.
Carrickfergus man Alastair Seeley and Richard Kerr from Co Donegal will be aiming to capitalise on the chance to add their names to the coveted silverware, with this year’s event lacking some of the big-name British Superbike riders who have been associated with the showpiece meeting in the past.
Ulster legend Joey Dunlop and six-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea are among the previous winners of the Sunflower race, which was held for the first time at Aghadowey in 1977.
Michael Laverty won the Sunflower Trophy a record six times, including four times in a row from 2002-2005. Laverty is pictured with the new trophy and the old one, which he got to keep after his fourth win on the trot in 2005 at Bishopscourt.
Toomebridge man Michael Laverty, now a MotoGP pundit for BT Sport, won the trophy a record six times – including four times in a row from 2002-2005 – while the great Steve Hislop clinched the spoils in 1995 at Bishopscourt and again in 1999, when the race was held at Kirkistown.
Who will join the illustrious roll of honour this weekend?
SUNFLOWER TROPHY WINNERS
1977 (Aghadowey) Joey Dunlop
Nottingham’s Richard Cooper won the Sunflower Trophy for the first time in 2018 on the Buildbase Suzuki at Bishopscourt.
1978 (Aghadowey) Joey Dunlop
1979 (Aghadowey) Noel Hudson
1980 (Aghadowey) Cancelled
1981 (Aghadowey) Sam McClements
1982 (Aghadowey) Alan Irwin
1983 (Aghadowey) Johnny Rea
1984 (Aghadowey) Steven Cull
1985 (Aghadowey) Mark Farmer
Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser/PBM Ducati) on his way to winning the Sunflower Trophy race for the second time in 2017 at Bishopscourt.
1986 (Aghadowey) Alan Irwin
1987 (Kirkistown) Ray Swann
1988 (Kirkistown) James Whitham
1989 (Kirkistown) Ron Haslam
1990 (Kirkistown) Rob McElnea
1991 (Kirkistown) Brian Morrison
Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) edegd out Richard Cooper (Buildbase Suzuki) on a thrilling last lap to win the Sunflower Trophy race at Bishopscourt in 2019.
1992 (Kirkistown) Brian Morrison
1994 (Bishopscourt) Jim Moodie
1995 (Bishopscourt) Steve Hislop
1996 (Bishopscourt) James Whitham
1997 (Bishopscourt) Matt Llewellyn
1998 NO RACE
1999 (Kirkistown) Steve Hislop
2000 (Kirkistown) Michael Rutter
2001 (Kirkistown) Marty Nutt
2002 (Kirkistown) Michael Laverty
2003 (Kirkistown) Michael Laverty
2004 (Kirkistown) Michael Laverty
2005 (Kirkistown) Michael Laverty
2006 (Bishopscourt) Jonathan Rea
2007 (Bishopscourt) Michael Laverty
2008 (Bishopscourt) Michael Rutter
2009 (Bishopscourt) Ian Lowry
2010 (Bishopscourt) Michael Laverty
2011 (Bishopscourt) Ian Lowry
2012 NO RACE
2013 NO RACE
2014 (Bishopscourt) Danny Buchan
2015 (Bishopscourt) Danny Buchan
2016 (Bishopscourt) Glenn Irwin
2017 (Bishopscourt) Glenn Irwin
2018 (Bishopscourt) Richard Cooper
2019 (Bishopscourt) Christian Iddon