Cookstown 100: Top-class field to contest Irish roads season opener

Dean Harrison and Jamie Hamilton
Dean Harrison and Jamie Hamilton will be among the leading contenders at the Cookstown 100

The 2015 Cookstown 100, the traditional curtain-raiser of the Irish road racing season, has attracted one of the best quality entries in the event's history.

Northern Ireland trio Michael Dunlop, William Dunlop and Jamie Hamilton will be joined on the grid by top English stars Guy Martin and Dean Harrison.

Republic of Ireland duo Derek Sheils and Derek McGee should also feature prominently at the Orritor circuit.

Practicing and racing will take place on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 April.

Four races are scheduled to take place over the 2.1-mile course on Friday evening, with the remaining 15 on Saturday.

A record number of entries, 200, have been received, with 59 newcomers set to take their place on the grid.

Michael Dunlop, an eight-time winner at Cookstown, will be on board his Milwaukee Yamaha/MD Racing-backed machinery, while brother William, a nine-time victor, will campaign Tyco BMW Motorrad and CD Racing Yamaha bikes.

Hamilton, 24, will make his first appearance for John Burrows' Cookstown BE Racing outfit, while Bradford pilot Harrison rides at the County Tyrone venue for the second time, in the Mar-Train Yamaha Racing colours.

Martin, who boasts three Cookstown successes on his CV, partners William Dunlop in the TAS Racing-run BMW team.

McGee makes his bow with the Wilson Craig Honda team, with the Mullingar man chasing his first win at the event after achieving three podiums last year.

Sheils, Michael Sweeney and Crumlin's Stephen Thompson should expect to challenge for rostrum places, while Maria Costello MBE heads a strong female contingent.

Waterford's Brian McCormack, English pair James Cowton and Connor Behan and Hungarian Sandor Bitter add further depth to an already strong entry.

Roads will close from 12 noon to 21:30 BST on Friday, and from 10:00 BST on Saturday.