Four weeks on from the conclusion of the 2012 Isle of Man TT, many of road-racing's top names will return to action for the Steam Packet International Southern 100 Road Races, held at the Billown circuit in Castletown.
The 57 year old event has seen plenty of thrilling action in its time, none more so than last year when Michael Dunlop and Guy Martin slugged it out. The Ulsterman was the star of 2011 with three victories including a dramatic success in the very first race of the week, overtaking Martin at Stadium bend on the final lap to beat him by a tenth of a second.
Both are back to renew their rivalry but many other riders will be out to challenge them. Michael's brother William is sure to be among them as he looks to add to his ten Southern 100 victories. Home rider Chris Palmer is level with the elder Dunlop brother in the victory stakes and he enters the event as the man in form, having won here in the pre-TT and post-TT meetings.
Ryan Farquhar has been as strong as anyone on the roads this year and he is sure to fight at the front in the Supertwins 650cc class but no run-down of the main contenders would be complete without mentioning Ian Lougher. The Welshman is the most successful rider in the history of the Southern 100 with 32 wins and will still feel there is more to come yet.
All eyes in the sidecar class will be on former world champions Ben and Tom Birchall who make their debut at the event, fresh from their maiden Isle of Man TT podium finishes last month. Conrad Harrison and Mike Aylott also tasted champagne at the TT and will be pushing hard and with 2011 double winners Klaus Klaffenbock not here, they will fancy their chances. Ian and Carl Bell will also be chasing victory, particularly after coming so close in the opening race last year.
Practice got underway today with eleven races scheduled before the end of the week. Another busy week of road racing lies ahead.
2012 Steam Packet International Southern 100 Road Races Schedule:
|Monday 9th July|
|Practice for all classes|
|Tuesday 10th July (Starting at 8pm)|
|Senior Solo Founders Race||8 Laps|
|Sidecar Race||6 Laps|
|Wednesday 11th July (Starting at 6:20pm)|
|Senior Race||8 Laps|
|250cc/650cc Race One||8 Laps|
|600cc Race One||8 Laps|
|Junior Solo Founders 125cc/400cc/450cc Race One||6 Laps|
|Thursday 12th July (Starting at 10:20am)|
|600cc Race Two||8 Laps|
|250cc/650cc Race Two||8 Laps|
|125cc/400cc/450cc Race Two||6 Laps|
|Solo Championship||9 Laps|
|Sidecar Championship||8 Laps|