John Burrows says Derek Sheils will take all the beating at this year’s KDM Hire Cookstown 100, which was launched on Thursday night at the Royal Hotel.
Dubliner Sheils will compete on Burrows’ Cookstown B.E. Racing Suzuki again in 2018, although his appearances for the Dungannon-based team will be limited to the Irish national road race meetings, with Sheils teaming up with the Penz13.com squad for the Isle of Man TT.
The 35-year-old has won the last four Superbike races around the 2.1-mile Orritor course with back-to-back doubles in 2016 and 2017, underlining his status as the favourite for more success at the opening road race of the new season at the end of this month.
Burrows said: “I believe Derek Sheils is the guy to beat on the roads at the national meetings, especially on the big bikes.
“I’m lucky to have his services again, albeit only for the big bike races this year, but he has proven himself as a fantastic rider and he will be hard to beat again this year, especially at Cookstown.”
Burrows will also run young English rider Davey Todd this season, who will have a full complement of Superbike, Superstock, Supersport and Supertwins machinery as he prepares for his first full season of Irish road racing after impressing last year, claiming some eye-catching results at Skerries and Armoy.
A strong line-up has been announced for Cookstown, with William Dunlop entered on the new-look Temple Golf Club Yamaha machines, while Co Tyrone team McAdoo Racing is double handed with new signing Adam McLean and Yorkshireman James Cowton riding for Winston McAdoo’s respected Kawasaki outfit.
Last year’s man of the meeting, Derek McGee, is another major contender and has added a KMR Supertwin to his stable, provided by Ryan Farquhar. McGee will ride his own Kawasaki ZX-10R plus a Supersport machine for B&W Site Sealants and the Joey’s Bar Honda.
Fans favourite Guy Martin will also attract plenty of attention, with the Lincolnshire rider set to return to Cookstown for the second successive year on his own 750cc BSA Rocket 3 in the Classic race.
Michael Sweeney, Paul Jordan and Banbridge man Shaun Anderson are also entered, while Davey Todd is joined on the newcomers list by Daniel Mettam from New Zealand, who will ride for Billy McKinstry.
Manxman Dan Sayle is also set to ride at Cookstown for the first time along with Darren Cooper, who won last year’s Supertwin race at the Manx Grand Prix.
Double Support class champion Joe Loughlin is another to keep an eye on in 2018, while Maria Costello leads the female charge along with Melissa Kennedy, Sarah Boyes, Yvonne Montgomery and Veronika Hankocyova.
Practice takes place on Friday, April 27 (roads close 12 noon) with the main race bill being held on Saturday, April 28, with roads closed from 10am.