By Kyle White Belfast Newsletter
Michael Dunlop has joined the line-up for this weekend’s Sunflower Trophy short circuit meeting at Bishopscourt.
The Ballymoney man will ride in the Superbike and Supersport classes for the McAdoo Racing Kawasaki team, joining Eunan McGlinchey.
Dublin’s Derek Sheils had been due to compete for the Cookstown team at the Co Down event but has withdrawn because of illness.
It was also confirmed on Thursday that National Junior Superstock rider Sam Laffins team up with McGlinchey on a McAdoo Kawasaki in the Supertwin races.
First held in 1977, the inaugural Sunflower race was won by Joey Dunlop at Aghadowey.
A host of famous riders have added their names to the prestigious silverware, including Jamie Whitham, Ron Haslam, Rob McElnea, Brian Morrison, Steve Hislop, Michael Rutter and Michael Laverty.
More recently, British Superbike winners Danny Buchan and Glenn Irwin triumphed in the blue riband race, which was last held in 2019 and won by Christian Iddon following a last-lap duel with Richard Cooper.
Iddon won’t return to defend his crown as planned after confirming on Wednesday he will instead compete at the ‘Race of the Year’ at Mallory Park this weekend for the Buildbase Suzuki team.
Nottingham’s Cooper will be on the grid, although the former National Superstock champion will be riding a 600cc BPE Yamaha. Cooper is also entered in the Supertwin races on a Ryan Farquhar-prepared J McC Roofing Kawasaki.
Alastair Seeley, who bagged the Ulster Superbike crown for the second successive year, will go into the showpiece race as the favourite on the IFS Yamaha R1.
Seeley has been in dominant form on the domestic scene this season, winning 15 times.
The Carrick man’s chief threat to a maiden Sunflower success is likely to be Co Donegal’s Richard Kerr, who won the Neil Robinson Memorial race at Bishopscourt in July after a rare mistake by Seeley.
National Superstock 1000 race winner Kerr – a double winner in the Supersport class at the Sunflower meeting three years ago – will ride the AMD Motorsport Honda as he, too, bids to add his name to the trophy for the first time.
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