ULSTER SBK championship contenders blew the cobwebs off yesterday as they returned to action and hit the track at Kirkistown.
In a numbers-limited testing capacity, riders look to be one small step closer to lining back up on the grid.
The Superbike class is already taking shape with former champs and a strong contingent of rookies and returning threats gunning for the crown.
Among the racers out testing yesterday were Jason Lynn, Aaron Armstrong and Luke Johnston while a host of other championship riders also descended on the County Down circuit including Jamie Lyons, Ross Paterson, Christian Elkin and roads man Adam McLean.
Set to return to defend his crown when competitive action gets back underway will be last year’s champ Carl Phillips on a new Suzuki GSXR1000, but 2018 champ Gerard Kingham on the IFS Yamaha and last year’s runner-up Ali Kirk will both be looking to stop him.
Armstrong is also poised to return on his Hunky Dory Suzuki while five-time Supersport champion Lynn plans to make his big bike class debut this season on an ex-John Burrows Suzuki.
A confirmed calendar of events for the remainder of 2020 is yet to be nailed down, but it looks likely that some form of short circuit action could return with restrictions in place later this year.
Just a fortnight ago, Bishopscourt made the call to axe its August 22 round of the Ulster SBK championship with planning time quickly disappearing and restrictions still uncertain.
Meanwhile, the Belfast And District Club intend to run an event at Kirkistown Race Track at the start of September, but this will be subject to the NI Executive, NI Sports and NHS approval as well as cooperation of the local Governing body.
Enniskillen Club bosses announced just last weekend that due to demand, they were looking to reschedule their St Angelo round to September or October, but chiefs reported that a shuffle of dates was not approved by the MCUI (UC).
“It is reported that the members of the Tarmac Committee have ruled against it, their reason given is that there is no room in the racing calendar at that time,” an Elliskillen Club rep said, indicating that the late-summer and autumn race schedule could be packed with activity.
On the roads scene, the Cookstown Club is still preparing and planning for its road race event in September, with limited spectators allowed and an online pre-booking system in place.
*Image: Derek Wilson