Manxman Dan Kneen will feel he has an excellent opportunity to emerge victorious in the traditional Easter Monday Irish short circuit showpiece at Kirkistown this year.
Kneen, who is in action beforehand at the 40th Enkalon Trophy meeting at Bishopscourt in Co Down on Saturday, twice finished as the runner-up in the Superbike class in 2016 on the Mar-Train Yamaha behind double winner Ryan Rainey at Kirkistown.
Crumlin man Rainey called time on his career last year and in his absence, Kneen is among the favourites for the top step at the Bank Holiday race on his DTR BMW Superstock machine.
The Isle of Man rider has joined the Penz13.com team for the 2017 international road races as he bids to put an injury-hit season behind him, with Kneen ruled out of the North West 200 and TT last year.
Northern Ireland’s Mar-Train Racing team quit the sport before Christmas in a shock move, leaving Kneen without a ride. He has managed to secure machinery for the Superbike and Superstock classes this year, but remains on the lookout for a Supersport machine.
His opposition at the Belfast & District Motor Club’s Irish Championship meeting at Kirkistown includes Meath’s Cody Nally, Brian McCormack from Waterford, Jamie Patterson and Scottish riders Kris Duncan and Donald Macfadyen.
Two Irish Superbike races will be held, with the winner of the second race receiving the feature Mayor’s Trophy.
In the Supersport class, McCormack and Patterson are entered and face stiff competition from Irish Supersport champion Jason Lynn, plus Christian Elkin, England’s Sam Johnson and Scotsman Duncan.
A full programme of support races will be held, including the Supertwins class, with Mark Hanna lining up once more after making his comeback last season.
Brian Reid’s son Simon will also be in action as he continues to build his short circuit experience.
Gary Dunlop will have a run out in the Moto3 class, which incorporates the 125GP and 250GP machines, as the Ballymoney rider warms up for another season of Irish road racing - starting next weekend at the Tandragee 100.
Admission is £10 with children under 12 going free (when accompanied by an adult).
Practice will get under way at 9am, with timed and untimed sessions for all classes.
Meanwhile, the first race at Bishopscourt on Easter Saturday is due at around 11am, with practice from 9am.