The ever popular Southern 100 has attracted again another truly first rate, world class Supersport, Superbike entry which includes TT winners, Irish roads champions, rising local stars and multiple event stalwarts.
Aiming to continue the form that took him extremely close to Pokerstars Senior TT victory, reigning Duke Road Race Rankings champion Dean Harrison starts for many the favourite for Superbike, Supersport honours and to retain the coveted solo championship crown.
One of only four racers to lap the fabled Mountain Course at under 17 minutes, Silicone Engineering Racing’s Harrison showcased at TT 2018 why he is firmly regarded amongst the world’s best International road racers.
Looking at one presently with the Silicone Kawasaki steeds, it’s going to take faultless performances from his competitors to defeat him next week at Billown.
Photo by Nick Wheeler
Anticipated leading challenger to Bradford’s Harrison will be none other than 18 times TT winner Michael Dunlop.
Although he didn’t retain his Senior race crown, TT 2018 was still a very successful meeting for the Ballymoney racer who chalked up a hat trick of victories including clinching the Bennetts Lightweight title for the first time.
Never to be underestimated, the mercurial Dunlop who’s proven on multiple occasions that the impossible is never not possible, has the obvious Billown CV, proven pace, machinery and the unquestioned star quality to go the entire 2018 Southern 100 unbeaten.
Set to pilot his own teams PTR prepared CBR 600RR Honda, it’s not clear yet as to what his machine of choice will be for the 1000cc races.
Outside of Dunlop and Harrison, others capable of banking multiple rostrum finishes include the talented McAdoo Kawasaki duo of James Cowton and Adam McLean.
In particular Cowton and McLean’s progress in the Supersport encounters will be monitored closely, with both strongly tipped to be in the mix for middleweight class honours.
Additional ones to watch include Dafabet Devitt Racing’s Ivan Lintin, Jamie Coward aboard the PreZ Racing R6 Yamaha, Team ILR’s Joe Thompson, Sam West, Rob Hodson and Wilcock Consulting Racing’s Michael Evans.
High profile newcomers to keep a close eye on, include twice Junior Manx GP champion Michael Sweeney on the Martin Jones Racing steeds, TT Privateers champion and second fastest TT newcomer in history, Cookstown BE Racing’s Davey Todd.
Plus TAG Racing IRL’s Brian McCormack, who like his fellow Colas Billown course debutants enjoyed a very successful TT 2018 tenure.
With close fought competition a certainty, all the usual contenders competing, plus next generation roads stars, the stage is set for classic Superbike, Supersport and Solo Championship encounters, at the 2018 Southern 100.
Words by Stevie Rial