The Isle of Man is the place to be again next week with the annual Southern 100 road races taking place in the south of the island and although fans will be disappointed that Guy Martin won’t be in attendance – as Honda continue to develop the new Fireblade – it should be another superb meeting.
Three-time Southern 100 Solo Champion Michael Dunlop is undoubtedly the favourite to come away with a coveted fourth title and having completed a ‘double’ in 2011 and 2012, he regained the crown last year on the Hawk Racing BMW. He has a new challenge this year with the new GSX-R Suzuki but having won the Senior TT, he’ll certainly be in confident mood.
However, whilst on paper Dunlop is the ‘man to beat’, there are plenty of Billown Course regulars who are equally keen to collect the silverware and other awards on offer, none more so than Dean Harrison.
The Silicone Engineering Kawasaki rider had another superb TT and has been in scintillating form at Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough, dominating the recent Cock o’ the North road races and claiming a new outright lap record. He’s yet to take the Southern 100 Solo Championship but if anyone’s going to get the better of Dunlop, Harrison will be a good bet.
Having gained his first TT Podium finish last month, Manxman Dan Kneen on the Penz13 BMW will also be one to keep an eye on and, like Harrison, has finished on the podium in the feature race but has yet to take the top step.
Dafabet Devitt Racing’s Ivan Lintin got his season back on track at Oliver’s Mount after a disappointing TT and always excels at Billown. Whilst last minute entry Daley Mathison, was on superb form at the Cock o’ the North although his experience at the Southern is considerably reduced compared to that of his rivals.
Jamie Coward will be on board the blue liveried BMW and Honda machines sponsored by local Castletown butcher Radcliffe’s and having secured his maiden victory for the local team at the Post TT meeting, will be aiming to add more laurel wreaths and trophies to the Radcliffe Racing Team’s collection.
Jamie’s Yorkshire rival James Cowton will also be looking to take some more silverware home with the help of the McAdoo Kawasaki machines he will be racing.
William Dunlop can never be ruled out, particularly in the Supersport class where rising star Adam McLean should feature prominently, whilst Ryan Kneen, Michael Russell, Mick and Mark Goodings and Gavin Lupton will also be hoping for good results.
Newcomers set to make the mark:
Whilst there are all the usual, established runners on the entry, the meeting has again attracted some high profile newcomers most notably Sam West, Derek McGee and Joe Thompson.
West has been one of the leading privateers at the International road races for a good few years now, and enjoyed another fine TT, with McGee needing no introduction given his credentials at the Irish National road races. Thompson, meanwhile, made a good debut at both the TT and North West 200 whilst the 18-year old also impressed at the Post TT when he got his first taste of the 4.25-mile circuit.
Stellar three-wheel line up:
The action isn’t just confined to two wheels either with the two sidecar races having a stellar line up, headed by reigning champions Tim Reeves/Mark Wilkes. They can expect stiff opposition from double TT winners Ben and Tom Birchall as well as John Holden/Lee Cain and local heroes Dave Molyneux/Dan Sayle.
Practice and Qualification takes place on Monday and Tuesday evenings 10th & 11th July, with racing commencing on Tuesday evening with two races. Wednesday (12th) sees a further four races with
Championship Day, Thursday 13th July will see no less than nine races being held, including the prestigious Manx Gas Solo & Sidecar Championship Races.
Are you looking forward to the Southern 100, who will you be cheering on? Why not share your comments below!
Having started watching motorcycle races all over the world form childhood, Phil Wain has been a freelance motorcycle journalist for 15 years and is features writer for a number of publications including BikeSport News and Classic Racer, having also been a regular contributor to MCN and MCN Sport. He is PR officer for a number of teams and riders at both the British Superbike Championship and International road races, including Smiths Triumph, Quattro Plant Kawasaki, John McGuinness, Ryan Farquhar and Keith Amor. He is also heavily involved with the Isle of Man TT Races, writing official press releases and race reports as well as providing ITV4 with statistical information.