Road Racing: Guy Martin to miss Cookstown 100, but William Dunlop to start season opener

William Dunlop got his 2013 road racing season off to a good start with a race win in the 250cc class. Picture Gavan Caldwell
William Dunlop got his 2013 road racing season off to a good start with a race win in the 250cc class. Picture Gavan Caldwell

Tyco Suzuki’s William Dunlop has been confirmed for April’s KDM Hire Cookstown 100, but team-mate Guy Martin will miss the annual Irish road racing season opener.

Dunlop will make his race debut at the event for the Moneymore team on April 26 on the TAS Racing Superbike and Supersport machines as the 28-year-old starts his campaign between the hedges.

Lincolnshire star Martin, however, won’t be on the grid at Cookstown, opting instead to compete in the opening Endurance World Championship round at the Bol d’Or 24-Hours race at Magny-Cours in France, which takes place over the same weekend.

Martin finished on the podium at the legendary Le Mans 24-Hours meeting at the end of last season for French team R2CL Suzuki and is using the endurance series to gain valuable track time ahead of the Isle of Man TT in June.

His absence from Cookstown next month will leave many fans disappointed, but Tyco Suzuki will still support the event with new signing Dunlop, who has returned home from Spain following two pre-season tests at Almeria and Cartagena.

“Cookstown will be a good chance to see how the bikes handle on roads” said Dunlop.

“It was great to have the chance to get some testing in Spain and get time on the bikes and meet all the team. But I’m looking forward to riding the bikes on the roads and the plan is to go with the Superbike and Supersport bikes.

Manxman Dan Kneen will make his debut here for Dungannon team owner John Burrows’ Cookstown BE Racing.

Kneen will ride a Suzuki Superbike plus a 600cc Honda purchased from World Supersport team PTR and is also entered on a 650cc Kawasaki Supertwin.

“Dan will ride the team’s Suzuki Superbike; the 600cc Honda we bought from World Supersport team PTR and a 650cc Kawasaki Supertwin” explained Burrows.

Discussing his aspirations for Kneen on his Cookstown 100 debut, Burrows said: “He has a lot of ability and I think he is well capable of top six results at Cookstown, but there will be no pressure on him.

“He will need to qualify well on the Friday night and ideally we would like him away in the first wave on race day and we will do our homework with Dan before he arrives.”

Practice is on Friday, April 25 with roads closing at 12 noon. On race day Saturday, April 26, roads will close at 10am or Irish road racing’s annual curtainraiser.