For the first time in two years, the International Gold Cup meeting at Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough is back on the racing calendar with Isle of Man Supersport TT race winner Lee Johnston heading the entry.
The Ashcourt Racing rider has enjoyed a superb season on the roads with the aforementioned TT win as well as a Supersport victory at the North West 200 and three podiums at the Ulster Grand Prix on the Yamaha YZF-R6. And he heads into the Gold Cup as favourite for the famous trophy that was first awarded in 1950.
Aiming to become just the second rider from Northern Ireland to win the Gold Cup – previously won by legendary names such as Geoff Duke, Giacomo Agostini, Phil Read, Barry Sheene and Carl Fogarty as well as record eight-time winner Guy Martin – Johnston, who has also enjoyed a strong season in the British Supersport Championship, will contest the feature event as well as all of the Supersport races.
With Dean Harrison, winner of the Gold Cup in 2015 and 2016, absent as he continues to recover from the injuries sustained at the Classic TT, Johnston’s main opposition is expected to come from circuit specialists Joey Thompson, Tom Weeden, Mark Goodings, Mike Norbury and Brad Vicars.
However, circuit debutante Paul Jordan may well prove to be Johnston’s stiffest challenger given his performances elsewhere this season whilst David Jackson and Joe Ackroyd can also be expected to be on the leaderboard along with Lightweight Ulster GP winner Neil Kernohan.
Halifax-based Johnston will also ride a Honda RC45 in the Classic Superbike encounters where he will come up against regular front runner David Bell on the Turnbull Engineering Yamaha OW01 and similarly-mounted Ackroyd.
Jordan will campaign the Mistral Racing Kawasaki he campaigned at the Classic TT with Weeden, Vicars, Adrian Harrison, Pete Boast and Dan Ingham also on the entry.
The Lightweight races should see veteran Ian Lougher as the man to beat on the Team ILR/Mark Coverdale Paton with the Welshman looking to extend his record total of wins around the 2.43-mile woodland circuit. Dominic Herbertson will have something to say about that though on the Cowton Racing Kawasaki with Thompson, Vicars and fromer Manx GP winners Mark Purslow and Michael Rees also looking to impress.
Thompson will also be action on his 250cc Yamaha where he will be up against Dan Sayle and Phil Harvey with this year’s Newcomers Manx Grand Prix winner Andrew Jackson expected to be the lead Moto 3 rider although Justin Waring should also be well to the fore.
The entry for the Formula Two Sidecar races is headed by Lee Crawford/Scott Hardie with expected opposition set to come from Conrad Harrison/Andy Winkle, Steve and Matty Ramsden, John Lowther/Tom Christie and Greg Lambert/Julie Canipa.