Michael's favourite at Cookstown
MICHAEL Dunlop is set to make his first road racing appearance on a BMW S1000RR at the Cookstown 100 Irish national meeting.
Dunlop, who will ride a S1000RR Superstock machine in his own MD Racing livery this year, plus a factory-supported Superbike in the official colours of the German manufacturer, is hot favourite for the season-opener next weekend.
The seven-time Isle of Man TT winner is also due to contest the opening rounds of the MCE British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch and Oulton Park before the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT.
Dunlop may take the chance to compete in the Supertwin class at the Cookstown 100 on the McAdoo Racing Kawasaki ER6. His 600cc Supersport machine will also run in his own MD Racing colours as Dunlop bids for another double in the class at the TT.
The line-up at Cookstown also includes new Tyco Suzuki rider William Dunlop, but Guy Martin is competing in the Bol d'Or 24-Hour Endurance World Championship race instead.
Opposition to the Dunlops at Cookstown includes Derek Sheils - out for the first time on the roads on his Ivan Curran-sponsored 600 Yamaha - along with the CD Racing MSS-prepared Kawasaki. Micko Sweeney is struggling to have his bikes ready, but his John Burrows Cookstown/BE Racing teammate Dan Kneen is entered. Derek McGee, Ryan Farquhar and Jamie Hamilton should feature as well.
There will be a very strong local interest, with Wayne Hall, Derek Costello, Sean Leonard, Noel Murphy, the O'Rourke brothers, with Andy Farrell making his debut on the Martin Bullock Racing machinery. Alan Bonner and Alan Connor will complete the line-up.
Practice takes place on Friday, with roads closing at noon, and on Saturday they will close at 10am, with a full 19-race programme.