Road Racing News

Southern 100 – Preview

International pure road racing stars a plenty, are set to take to Billown next week, for the 2016 Southern 100.

TT Races lap record holder Michael Dunlop, starts for many the pre race favourite for solo championship success, as he pilots the Hawk Racing S1000RR BMW, which propelled him to RST Superbike and Pokerstars Senior TT victories.

A twice solo championship winner, Michael hasn’t won the blue riband race since 2012, will this change next week?

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It’s fair to say the combination of the 13 times TT winner and the fastest machine in history to lap the world famous Mountain Course, will prove extremely hard to beat.

Silicone Engineering Racing’s Dean Harrison, is on top form going into competition around Billown.

The current Southern 100 lap record holder, has been one of the prominent forces at the front of many a race in recent years, at the popular meeting.

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Photo by Jim Gibson

Amongst the strong contenders for solo championship success, expect Dean as well to be near the front of the field in the supersport races, where he competes on ZX6R Kawasaki machinery.

William Dunlop will start in my opinion the favourite for supersport success, on his own teams Caffrey International backed YZF R6 Yamaha.

Following a challenging TT 2016 campaign, William has since showed world class form at the Post TT Races, Kells and Skerries.

More known it’s fair to say at present for supersport accomplishments, don’t discount him from securing series of podium finishes in the superbike encounters.

Lightweight TT winner Ivan Lintin, is anticipated to be the leading force on the 650’s. Plus the Devitt RC Express Racing rider is a dark horse for supersport success and a contender for top three finishes on 2016 spec ZX10R Kawasaki machinery.

James Cowton, Cowton Racing by Radcliffe’s ER6 Kawasaki, is likely to be the leading challenger to Ivan in the super twin races.

A 650 specialist, James is also in my opinion in contention for race wins on the world supersport spec CBR 600 Honda. Completing his set of mounts for Billown, is a S1000RR BMW, as he aims to create a surprise or two in the 1000cc races.

Dan Kneen returns to roads action at the Southern 100, having missed the Vauxhall International North West 200 and TT 2016, due to an arm injury.

Now back to fitness, the Manxman can’t wait to get back racing the Mar Train Racing Yamaha’s, which he enjoyed great success with early season at the Tandragee 100 and Cookstown 100.

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Photo by Mark Corlett

It’s difficult to say how competitive Dan will be, given he will be behind many of his fellow competitors, in terms of track time and bike fitness.

You can’t discount him though from securing stand out results, same notion applies to Jackson Racing’s Steve Mercer.

Having had without a doubt his most successful TT Races campaign to date, Steve is one to watch, he has the proven pace to record a podium finish in the solo championship.

Multiple rising stars entered include reigning formula 2 Classic TT winner Ryan Kneen, Seamus Elliott, Mark Goodings, Rob Hodson, Jamie Hodson and Michael Russell who is confident of pushing for super twin’s success on the JHS Racing Suzuki.

TT privateers championship runner up Jamie Coward, has been in fine form at Billown this year, wrapping a hat trick of victories at the Pre TT Classic Races, plus impressing at the Post TT meeting.

It wouldn’t surprise many if Jamie stands on the top step of the podium, in both super twin races, which sees him compete on his own teams RJP Racing backed ER6 Kawasaki.

One of the stars of TT 2016, Dan Hegarty privateers champion, has been in my opinion to date one of the leading riders of this year’s pure road racing season.

Set to pilot the RTR Motorcycles Racing ZX6R and ZX10R Kawasaki’s, Dan has the determination, talent and ability to finalise world class results.

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Photo by Mark Corlett

Added notable entrants include Davy Morgan, Glenn Harrison, Jamie Williams, Simon Fulton, Michael Moulai, Paul Duckett, Alistair Haworth, Dave Taylor, Paul Robinson, Adrian Harrison and Dan Sayle on the Falcon Racing Moto 3 Honda.

In my opinion the most high profile newcomer to Billown, will be Devitt RC Express Racing’s Alan Bonner.

Although he’s a Southern 100 debutant, it would not surprise me if Alan wrapped up at least top six finishes.
Same applies to Gary Dunlop on the Joey’s Bar Racing RS125 Honda.

Alongside the stellar solo entry, the entry for the sidecar races, is of the highest quality.

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Photo by Mark Corlett

Expect close fought, top draw, enthralling races as the Birchall brothers Ben and Tom, Dave Molyneux/Dan Sayle, John Holden/Andrew Winkle, Tim Reeves/Patrick Farrance all compete.

Any one of the four duos could emerge victorious next week, plus don’t discount Manx duo Karl Bennett/Lee Cain from clinching podium finishes.

The evergreen Roy Hanks joined by Kevin Perry, Wayne Lockey/Mark Sayers, Greg Lambert/Kenny Cole are added outfits all capable of causing many a surprise or two.

Overall where in for a top class four days of pure road racing action, at the 2016 Southern 100.

Its looking likely that for the first time in four years, there will be a new solo championship winner. There has been no indication throughout the past week that Guy Martin will be competing for Tyco BMW.

Even if Guy does compete, in my opinion it will be a huge ask for the world famous road racer, to emerge victorious in the blue riband race, given that he has not taken part in any testing/race meetings throughout 2016.

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Photo by Mark Corlett

We’ve still in prospect though high class battles a plenty around Billown, can Michael Dunlop regain the solo championship crown? We will all soon find out.

Words by Stevie Rial

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