Paul Jordan intends to make his big chance count after the Magherafelt rider was handed the opportunity to ride the Temple Golf Club Yamaha for the rest of the season.
Jordan will join Ballymoney’s William Dunlop in Mar-Train Racing boss Tim Martin’s team and will make his roads debut on the R1M Superstock bike this weekend at the Skerries 100 in North County Dublin.
The first southern Irish road race of the season also heralds Dunlop’s return to action on the Temple Golf Club Yamaha Superbike and Supersport machines.
Last month, Dunlop pulled out of the Isle of Man TT over family concerns, travelling back to Northern Ireland to be with his partner Janine, who is pregnant with the couple’s second child.
For Jordan, it is a welcome turnaround in fortunes after the 27-year-old faced the prospect of being unable to race at all this season.
He rode for the Isle of Man-based IMR team in 2017 but was left without a team this year, leaving Jordan to run a stock 600 Yamaha on a shoestring budget.
However, he has now picked up a plumb ride on the Temple GC Yamaha Superstock bike, which he will race at Skerries, Armoy and next month’s MCE Ulster Grand Prix at Dundrod, where Jordan finished a fine fifth in the second Supersport race last August.
He told the News Letter: “It’s a lifeline for me because this year when we started off it didn’t even look as if I’d be able to race at all.
“I’ve been doing my own thing really with a completely stock 600 Yamaha and then I rode a 1000cc Honda as a one-off at the TT with TC Racing.
“To get the chance to ride for Tim’s team is just class because when you look at the riders who have come through at Mar-Train, the likes of Dean Harrison and Dan Kneen, it’s a big opportunity for me.
“Tim’s set-up is first class and everything is immaculate – it’s the best you can get, so I’ve got no excuses.”
Jordan tested the bike for the first time at Kirkistown in County Down and was immediately impressed with the power delivery of the R1.
“I tested the bike at Kirkistown and I was just so surprised by the power delivery because it feels so manageable,” he said.
“I was able to ride it fast quite quickly and my lap times weren’t far away, but I don’t want to get too carried away just yet because obviously that was my first time on the bike and I haven’t rode it on the roads yet.”
A quality entry has been secured for Skerries, headed by 18-time TT winner Michael Dunlop, last year’s treble Superbike winner Derek Sheils, runaway Enniskillen winner Derek McGee and this year’s sensational TT newcomer Davey Todd.
Jordan, though, is quietly confident of his own prospects.
“I felt good at Skerries last year and it was really the first time I raced a big bike there on the IMR BMW,” he said.
“We led the Grand Final and then it was red-flagged because it started to rain, but I got a podium (in the non-championship Open race) so I get on alright there.
“I have to be realistic because I haven’t had a lot of time on the big bike but I’ve got to be aiming for the top five or the podium. I’ve got to try and find my feet and get myself acquainted with everyone in the team too.
“I know William and I’ve helped him out at the TT when he rode for Wilson Craig. I’m so grateful to Tim for the chance and I can’t thank him enough.”
The Martin Finnegan Memorial race tops the bill, with 5,000 euros on offer to the winner.
In a change from mprevious years, racing will be held on Sunday, with roads closed from 8am and the first race scheduled for 10am.
Practice takes place on Saturday (roads closed from 12 noon).