Derek Sheils will be aiming to capitalise on an unlikely opportunity to retain his Irish Superbike Championship crown at the final National road race of the season this weekend at Killalane.
The Cookstown B.E. Racing rider thought his chance of sealing back-to-back crowns was gone after he was forced to miss the Armoy meeting at the end of July due to his commitments as the best man at his friend’s wedding.
In the Dubliner’s absence, Derek McGee climbed to the top of the standings by 17 points with one round to go, leaving Sheils with only an outside chance of being crowned champion once again on Sunday.
However, ‘Mullingar Missile’ McGee was dealt an injury blow at the Ulster Grand Prix, when he was hit by Adam McLean on the opening lap of the second Supersport race at the Lindsay Hairpin.
McGee sustained a nasty hip injury but has been working hard in an effort to compete this weekend at the Carole Nash-backed East Coast Racing Festival to protect his championship hopes.
Should McGee fail to make the grid, a top-two finish for Sheils would be enough to clinch the title and Cookstown B.E. Racing team boss John Burrows said it promises to be an exciting conclusion to the season on Sunday.
“Without going into it, I think it was unfortunate that we didn’t get doing Armoy when we were leading the championship and obviously Derek McGee capitalised on that,” he said.
“He’s 17 points ahead, so if Derek was to finish first or second this weekend, he would win the championship, but that’s if Derek McGee is a non-starter.
“I hope Derek McGee is fit enough to race this weekend but if he does race, then it’s out of our hands really. He’s a nice lad and he rode a bike for me last year, and if he wins the championship then he deserves it because he’s done all the rounds.
“But through injury sometimes these things aren’t possible, so if he’s not able to race then I suppose that’s a wee bit of luck for us,” added Burrows.
“In saying that, we still have to finish the race and we’ve had our fair of bad luck this season, especially at the TT, so you can’t take anything for granted.”
Burrows will also run promising roads newcomer Davey Todd this weekend in the Supertwin class and last night revealed that English rider would also compete at Killalane on his Superstock-spec Suzuki GSX-R1000.
The line-up also includes Skerries man Michael Sweeney, plus Paul Jordan from Magherafelt, who will ride the Evolution Camping Yamaha R6.
William and Michael Dunlop miss out due to their commitments at the Goodwood Revival.
Roads close on Saturday for practice from 1pm-7pm and on Sunday for racing from 10am-6.30pm.