MICHAEL Dunlop and Derek Shiels opened the road racing season in blistering style by posting braces apiece in the Cookstown 100 at the weekend.
Dunlop, who will undergo surgery this week on a suspected broken arm sustained at Brands Hatch last week, won Supersport 600cc race two and the Supertwins. He is expected to miss next week’s British Superbike Championship second round meeting at Oulton Park and faces a race against time to be fit for the North West 200.
Sheils meanwhile claimed the chequered flag in the opening Supersport outing and the Open race.
Debutant, Manxman Dan Kneen, won the feature race from the second group by 0.3 seconds from William Dunlop.
Kneen, riding for John Burrows’s BE Cookstown Racing team, took the victory on corrected time from the Tyco TAS Suzuki rider, with Mullingar’s Derek McGee third.
After his sparkling double Michael Dunlop said he was surprised by his opening day success.
“I am riding through the pain barrier – and probably shouldn’t be here at all, but I didn’t want to miss the first road race of the season,” he said.
“I really surprised myself as I didn’t think I would be competitive. I didn’t feel the injury during the Supersport race. But I feel the pain now.”
Dubliner Sheils laid down an early marker at the Orritor circuit by winning Friday evening’s Supersport joust, with runner-up McGee 0.2 seconds behind, followed by William Dunlop and brother Michael.
The CD Racing Kawasaki pilot made it two wins from two starts by taking the flag in the Open race, 0.7 seconds ahead of McGee and William Dunlop. Michael Dunlop retired on his BMW Superstock machine on lap six.
The second Supersport race saw the younger of the Dunlop brothers produce a heroic performance to come through from ninth on lap three and then pass second-placed man McGee and third-place finisher Sheils on the final circuit.
William Cowden won the Moto3/125cc race and John Ella edged out Michael Sweeney and Tommy Henry in the 250cc class.
James Cowton and Jamie Hamilton made up the podium positions in the Supertwins.