Cooper, McWilliams head up Sunflower Trophy entry as Bishopscoourt event returns

The prestigious Sunflower Trophy at Bishopscourt takes place this weekend after a three-year COVID-19 hiatus with Richard Cooper leading the entry list

Christian Iddon - Tyco BMW

The end-of-season Sunflower Trophy event will make a return this weekend with a handful of renowned all-comers take on the great and good of the Ulster Superbike Championship at Bishopscourt.

One of the centrepieces of the domestic motorcycle racing scene, the Sunflower Trophy has been a mainstay of the annual schedule since 1977, but hasn’t taken place since 2019 due to the restrictions brought on by COVID-19.

Now the event is making a roaring return as part of the Ulster Superbike and Supersport Championship season finale, though both titles have already been sewn up by Alastair Seeley.

Coming over from the UK will be a handful of reputable racers looking to take it to the local masses, most notably Richard Cooper - a winner in 2018 - though his anticipated Hawk Suzuki team-mate Christian Iddon, who won last time out in 2019, has withdrawn through injury.

Beyond Seeley and Cooper, National Superstock race winner Richard Kerr, McAdoo Kawasaki’s Eunan McGlinchey and Derek Shiels, TT legend Ian Hutchinson and ex-MotoGP rider Jeremy McWilliams will also be on course, the latter pair doing so in Yamaha and Honda 600cc machines.

Previous winners of the Sunflower Trophy include road racing legend Joey Dunlop and even six-time WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea, who won in 2008 midway through his first international campaign in the WorldSSP Championship.

More recent winners have included local racer Glenn Irwin, Michael Laverty, Danny Buchan, Ian Lowry and Michael Rutter, while Carl Fogarty and Ron Haslam have also previously competed in the prestigious annual event.