COOKSTOWN 100: Derek Sheils maintains unbeaten winning streak on Suzuki

Open A Superbike winner Derek Sheils on the podium at the Cookstown 100 on Saturday with runner-up Michael Dunlop (left) and Michael Sweeney.
Open A Superbike winner Derek Sheils on the podium at the Cookstown 100 on Saturday with runner-up Michael Dunlop (left) and Michael Sweeney.

Derek Sheils was disappointed to miss the chance of challenging for his third successive Superbike double at the KDM Hire Cookstown 100 Saturday.

Sheils won the Open A race on corrected time from the second group for his fifth straight win on John Burrows’ Suzuki, but the feature race scheduled for later in the afternoon did not go ahead after the organisers cancelled the remainder of the meeting.

Derek Sheils is unbeaten around the Orritor course on the Cookstown/Burrows Engineering Racing Suzuki since 2015.

Derek Sheils is unbeaten around the Orritor course on the Cookstown/Burrows Engineering Racing Suzuki since 2015.

Poor weather and a spate of crashes led Clerk of the Course Francis Everard to call a halt to the event with a number of races still to run.

Sheils, who is unbeaten around the Orritor course in County Tyrone on the big Suzuki since 2015, said: “Unfortunately, the Cookstown 100 race didn’t go ahead but it was a smart decision on behalf of the organisers. I’d have liked to have won the race to have sealed the deal but who knows how it would have went because there were a lot of fast lads out there wanting to win too.

“But it’s a good start to the season and we’ll take that after Friday, when we had an engine problem with the big bike in practice. Tandragee is up next and we’ll be going there to try and win races, like we do everywhere.”

Michael Dunlop was the runner-up on the Tyco BMW after the Ballymoney man was the first rider across the line ahead of Skerries rider Michael Sweeney (MJR BMW). Dunlop was almost five seconds behind Sheils on corrected time.

Sheils qualified on pole for the Supersport class on the ex-William Dunlop Yamaha and finished fourth in the 600 Invitation race, which was won by Michael Dunlop on the MD Racing Honda from McAdoo Racing duo Adam McLean and James Cowton.

The Dublin rider finished on the rostrum in third place in the Supersport A race, which was declared a result after four laps following a red flag incident. Yorkshireman Cowton won the race from team-mate McLean in a one-two for the locally-based McAdoo Racing team.

New signing Davey Todd impressed on his Cookstown debut, finishing eighth in the Open A race and seventh in the Supersport Invitation race. The 22-year-old, from Saltburn-by-the-Sea, was 10th in the Supersport A race and rounded off the day with a fantastic third place in the Supertwins event, losing out on the runner-up spot by a few hundredths of a second.

Team boss John Burrows said: “I feel we had a good day as a team after a difficult practice. Derek’s motor went on the first lap of qualifying on the Suzuki GSX-R1000 and then he jumped on his 600 and put in a qualifying time.

“That left Derek on the back foot because he had to start from 12th place on the second row of the second group. It was going to be difficult if he didn’t get the hole-shot and have some clear track in front of him, but luckily he made a good start and straight away he built a lead on corrected time.

“He managed to extend his lead to close to five seconds by the finish, so that’s a massive positive for the team after what happened on Friday. It shows how good Derek is but also how, as a team, we worked together and turned it around.”

Burrows was also impressed by English rider Todd’s performance although he was left slightly disappointed after an incorrect tyre choice backfired for the Supertwins race.

“Davey was a newcomer at Cookstown and I was very pleased with his performance. He’s a very talented lad and he showed that because he qualified 18th on the Suzuki GSX-R1000 but came through to gain ten places in the race, taking a strong eighth position,” Burrows said.

“His lap times weren’t far away from the riders at the front and his times were also very strong on the 600 Honda. We made a wrong tyre choice for the Supertwins race and he was spinning up coming out of the road ends, but Davey still managed to get onto the podium in third.

“It was good to come away today with Derek winning the Open race and Davey getting his first podium for the team, so from my point of view I’m delighted with how it went.

“Unfortunately, it was a trying day for the organisers with the weather and a number of incidents, but they made the right decision to call it off at the end.”

Adam McLean won the Supertwins race from New Zealand’s Daniel Mettam – also a newcomer to Cookstown – with Todd right behind in third.