Nikki Coates feels the flowing nature of the Bishopscourt circuit in Co Down is the perfect match for his style as he targets a third successive victory in the IFS David Wood Memorial Trophy feature race tomorrow.
Coates has lifted the trophy each year since the inaugural meeting in 2014 and is bidding for a hat-trick on the Kingsbury Packaging Kawasaki Supersport machine.
The Pirelli Tyres IFS Supersport class takes top billing at the event in a nod to the instrumental role played by Wood in establishing the lucrative Regal 600 Championship, which ended in 2003.
Coates, who will also line up on the KP Kawasaki ZX-10R in the Wiz Knee Sliders/Charles Hurst Motorcycles Superbike races, told the News Letter: “I’m looking forward to it obviously and I go quite well around there. Bishopscourt suits me because it’s fast and flowing and I’ve done most of my racing in England and Spain, so it’s more like those circuits.
“Robert Kennedy is back after a few races in England and he’s going to be quite strong on the 600, so it won’t be easy.
“It’s good that the 600s are the main event and Davy Wood obviously did a lot for the class. I’m riding the Kingsbury Packaging Kawasaki as well this year so I’ll be kept busy on Saturday,” he added.
“It’s a new Superstock-spec ZX-10R and we had a few teething problems with the bike at the beginning of the season like everyone else, but we’ve made progress with it and I’ve managed to win a few races.
“I’m leading the Irish Superbike Championship with three rounds to go and the Ulster Supersport Championship as well, so it’d be nice to wrap those up,” said Coates.
“I was out injured for a couple of rounds after suffering concussion and I missed the back-to-back races at Kirkistown and Mondello, so I lost the lead of the Irish Supersport Championship.
“After Bishopscourt this weekend we’ve got St Angelo and then the Sunflower meeting in October, so we’ll keep at it.”
Coates’ rivals in the Supersport class also include Jason Lynn, Korie McGreevy, Robert English, Mark Conlin, Ross Patterson, Aaron Clifford, Christian Elkin, Aaron Armstrong and Michael Rea, who was the 2014 Arai Man of the Meeting.
A top prize of £1,500 plus a set of Pirelli tyres is on offer to the winner, while the Arai Man of the Meeting will receive £300 and a new Chaser V helmet.
The Supersport class includes the ‘Sail to Pole’ qualifying session backed by Nutt Travel, with the fastest 10 competitors from the opening qualifying session progressing to the six-minute shootout, with the pole sitter collecting a cheque for £100.
In the Irish Superbike races, the line-up includes Gerard Kinghan, Jamie Patterson, English, Gareth Keys, Michael Sweeney, Jonny Harvey and Charles Stuart, who was among the winners at the recent Irish Superbike meeting at Kirkistown.
A total prize fund of £12,000 is up for grabs with IFS Global Logistics on board as title backers, joining valued sponsors including Charles Hurst Motorcycles Belfast, Rea Timber Craft (Crumlin), Pitlane Bike Services (Larne), Charles Hurst Hyundai Dundonald, Walter Bell Oil Fired boilers and St Patricks Slemish Water.
The race is promoted by the Motor Cycle Road Racing Club of Ireland (MCRRCI). Admission is £10, payable at the gate. Pratice is from 9am with the first race at 11am.
The News Letter is on board as the event’s media partner and we’ll have a full round-up from the event on Monday and online at www.newsletter.co.uk