Sunflower Trophy: Michael Laverty looks to add to record tally of wins
Michael Laverty will hope to add to his record tally of six wins in the feature Sunflower Trophy race when he competes at the Bishopscourt event on Saturday.
Laverty is the most successful rider in the history of the meeting with 18 victories in total but has not raced at the Sunflower since winning in 2010.
The Toomebridge rider will be in the colours of the Tyco BMW team.
Laverty will face stiff opposition from defending champion and lap record holder Glenn Irwin and Alastair Seeley.
Seeley will be on board an IFS-backed R1 Yamaha, with British Superstock 1000cc champion Danny Buchan also a contender for the major honours.
Essex rider Buchan won the feature showpiece race in 2014 and 2015 and campaigns an MSS Colchester-backed Kawasaki.
Other leading entries include Northern Ireland's Carl Phillips and Irish Superbike champion Charles Stuart, Gerard Kinghan, plus Irish and Ulster Supersport title holder Jason Lynn.
Laverty, who took his first Sunflower success back in 2000, this week revealed that he had agreed a deal to return to the Tyco BMW team for the 2018 British Superbike season.
"I was able to obtain an early release from my Yamaha contract so I am able to get down to business straight away on a bike that I helped to develop for a couple of years," said the 36-year-old.
"Phillip Neill has a lot of belief in my ability and I'm excited to be back with the team. Hopefully I can get back to where I left off back in 2016 and target a place in the top six showdown. That's the plan.
"I haven't had the opportunity to ride at the Sunflower in recent years and it's going to be a tough challenge.
"Glenn is on the bike he has been riding all year, whereas I'm jumping onto a machine that's new to me in recent months. It should be a good fight and a good race."