Michael Dunlop leads the entry for this year's Southern 100, where Guy Martin has been confirmed as a non-starter.

Dunlop won the feature race last year for the third time as he completed a four-timer in the 1000cc class and the Ulsterman returns to stake his claim for back-to-back wins in the Solo Championship event at the Billown course on the Isle of Man.

Lincolnshire rider Martin won the Solo race three times in a row from 2013 to 2015, equalling Joey Dunlop's record trio of successive victories from 1976-1978.

However, the 35-year-old looks set to miss the event this year after the race organisers issued a statement on Tuesday morning, which claimed Martin's Honda 'was not available with further testing to be carried out'. Martin withdrew from the Senior TT after luckily escaping unharmed following a fall in the Superbike race.

Bennetts Suzuki rider Dunlop will line up as the favourite, but his rivals include Bradford's Dean Harrison on the Silicone Engineering Kawasakis, who has been in terrific form this season.

Dan Kneen will be a major contender on home turf on the Penz13.com BMW and is flying high after sealing his maiden rostrum at the TT in the Superstock race, while Ivan Lintin (Dafabet Devitt RC Express Kawasaki) and Daley Mathison on the Stobart BMW will also be aiming to force their way into the rostrum mix.

James Coward will be out to put on a good show for sponsor and local Castletown business Radcliffe's Butchers on his BMW and Honda machines, while James Cowton is another strong contender for Northern Ireland team McAdoo Kawasaki.

William Dunlop is also on the entry list along with fellow Irish road racing regular Derek McGee, who will hope to challenge at the front in the Supersport class on his Yamaha.

Practice gets underway on Monday with the first two races scheduled for Tuesday evening. Four more races are planned on Wednesday, with the event concluding with Championship Day on Thursday, featuring the prestigious Manx Gas Solo and Sidecar Championship events.



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