Excitement building ahead of 2016 Cookstown 100

John Dillon, Caroline Sterling, Dean Campbell

John Dillon, Caroline Sterling, Dean Campbell

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The KDM Hire Cookstown 100 Road Races moved up a gear on Thursday night at the event’s 2016 launch at Royal Hotel, Cookstown.

The owners of the hotel, the Thom family, have been huge supporters of the race over recent years and again provided a splendid venue for this annual event.

I’m going to let the lads ride the other races, but this is my favourite so I’m going to do this one myself

Gary Dunlop

They also pledged to continue their support and sponsorship. The launch night was attended by a number of the teams that will be racing around the Orritor Road circuit this year.

Gary Dunlop, son of the famous Joey Dunlop, will not only be bringing along a fleet of bikes and riders but has also ‘pulled rank’ and chosen to ride one of his own bikes around the circuit himself stating: “I’m going to let the lads ride the other races, but this is my favourite so I’m going to do this one myself!”.

Also there were Enniskillen’s Mellissa Kennedy and Cookstown’s own riders Warren Reeve and Dean Campbell.

Warren moved up from his two stroke 125cc machine, after being dogged by bad luck to 400cc four stroke class and Dean won his senior support class last yea and moved up a class, having changed from his Suzuki to Kawasaki machinery and will now be racing in the supersport category .

The local John Burrows Engineering team was also there with the new kid on the block Malachi Mitchell-Thomas.

Malachi, with the looks of a teen pop idol, hit the roads last week at Mid Antrim notching up a brace of wins and also a win in the superbike class, not bad for his first time at the circuit. John Burrows told the audience that he first noticed the young Malachi a few years ago just because his name stuck out, but knew he had to get him on the team after he won Senior Manx Grand Prix last year.

Clerk of course Francis Everard has a full entry list with 18 races on Saturday April 30. Having managed last year’s racing with military precision, he was praised by club and sponsors for what they called a clinical operation, the success down to his no-nonsense and professional attitude. To the delight of the crowd it was announced that Australian Cameron Donald is hopefully returning to try to regain his crown from years gone by. Michael Millar of KDM Hire said they are proud to be involved and Cllr Kim Ashton thanked everyone involved in the biggest sporting event in Mid-Ulster which is fantastic for the local economy and for N.Ireland tourism in general.