The popular Kells Road Races meeting, has over the years played host to many a top class battle, between many of the world’s leading pure road racers.
Expect no different this weekend, as many a TT 2016 star competes against multiple rising roads stars.
One of the firm favourites for open and grand final victories, will be Derek Sheils. Derek recently enjoyed without a doubt his best TT Races to date, sealing an excellent 13th place finish in the blue riband Pokerstars senior TT.
Piloting the same Cookstown BE Racing GSX-R 1000 Suzuki, that propelled him to lapping close to the 127 mph mark at TT 2016, he starts in my opinion the favourite for grand final victory.
Photo by Rod Neill
Derek McGee, Noel Williamson Racing S1000RR BMW, is set to lead the BMW Motorrad challenge. Enjoying a consistent season, the Cookstown 100 grand final runner up, has the capabilities to dominant the big bike encounters.
Same notion applies to reigning Duke Road Race Rankings champion William Dunlop.
William endured a disappointing TT 2016 campaign by his own high standards, but ended competition on the Isle of Man in positive with supersport and superbike wins at the Post TT Races.
Photo by Jim Gibson
Piloting his own teams Caffrey International backed YZF R1M Yamaha, we all know his talent and his race winning craft, the question how competitive will the Yamaha be at Kells.
Added potential front runners include Michael Sweeney, Martin Jones Racing ZX10R Kawasaki and Brian McCormack, Tag Racing/VTL Honda.
Both riders who showed impressive pace on the Mountain Course at TT 2016, both have the ability to record race wins.
Rising stars to watch include B&W Racing’s Paul Jordan, Logan Racing’s Neil Kernohan and reigning Irish road race senior support champion Kevin Fitzpatrick.
For many the favourite for the main supersport race, will be William Dunlop. Regarded by many as the leading exponent of the hugely competitive class on the roads, William has already enjoyed this year many a memorable supersport moment.
Which includes victories at the Cookstown 100 and Tandragee 100, plus battling his way to fourth place finish in the opening 600 encounter at the Vauxhall International North West 200.
Now running his own team, he remains as he started the season YZF R6 Yamaha mounted. The 2015 Irish road race supersport champion, will be hard to beat.
Fellow YZF R6 Yamaha mounted competitor Derek McGee, is another pre race favourite.
Proven on 600 machinery, it wouldn’t surprise anyone, if Derek emerges victorious this weekend.
Same notion applies to Michael Sweeney, Tracblast backed YZF R6 Yamaha. The two times junior Manx Grand Prix winner, has a good record at Kells and goes into the meeting, in good form having finished a more than creditable 20th in the senior TT.
Additional riders in contention for a podium finish include rising star Paul Jordan, Brian McCormack, Logan Racing’s Neil Kernohan, Dean Campbell, Thomas Maxwell and Michal Dokoupil.
Newcomers to watch out for include Darren Cooper, third place finisher in last years newcomers A Manx Grand Prix and America’s Adam Bauer.
2015 Czech road racing super twins champion Michal Dokoupil, is considered by many one of the main contenders for super twins success at Kells.
Competing on the RT+E Racing ER6 Kawasaki, Michal established as one of the leading 650 competitors between the hedges, could well prove the dominant force at the weekend, same applies to Paul Jordan.
Piloting the B&W Racing ER6 Kawasaki, the rising roads star has gone from strength to strength in recent years.
Aiming to next year make his TT Races debut, Paul is one to watch in the super twins class.
Michael Sweeney, Veronika Hankocyova, Callum Laidlaw and Full Factory Winners Wear backed David Lumsden, could all spring a surprise or two.
Alongside the anticipated close fought open, supersport, super twin and grand final races, there is also 125, 250, 400, junior support, senior support and classic machinery action in prospect at the 2016 Kells Road Races.
Stand out entrants across these classes include Gary Dunlop making his Kells debut, on one of the Joey’s Bar Racing’s RS 125 Honda’s, Paul Black Racing’s Gavin Brown, Stephen Morrison, Andy Farrell and up and coming star Adam McLean.
Many of the competitors at Kells this weekend, go into the meeting, brimming with confidence following stellar TT 2016 campaigns.
Expect world class roads action, tight battles and thrilling races, over the two days of competition at one of pure road racing’s most popular meets.
Words by Stevie Rial