MORE than 200 motorcycle competitors are set to descend on East Fortune this weekend for Melville Motor Club’s season opener.

Among those taking part will be a handful of TT competitors chasing their qualification signatures, a mandatory requirement to compete in the world-famous Isle of Man race.

They include two riders who have made it into the dizzy heights of the Top 10 TT race finishes: Chris Petty from Pontefract – seventh, with 63 finishes; and East Fortune regular George Spence from Ceres in Fife – who sits in ninth place with 61 finishes, the top Scot by a long way.

Northern Ireland’s Eric Wilson has had his race entry accepted and sidecar TT competitor Tony Baker brings his Cumbrian Express outfit and daughter passenger Fiona Baker-Holden.

In 2017 they had one of their best ever results and race speeds and will compete in a large grid which also includes British Championship runners.

Hawick race ace John Dean, the 2016 Scottish Superbike Champion and winner of the Steve Hislop Memorial Trophy the same year, returns after having taken a year out. Dean currently leads the championship following his winning weekend at Knockhill.

Local riders feature in most classes and include Haddington’s Colvin Denholm, Mark Leonard and Kenneth Thirlwall; Howard Selby and Martin Harrison from North Berwick; Prestonpans youngster Adon Davie; Gullane’s Allister Blair; Tranent’s Euan Daly and Paul McLean; and East Linton’s Stuart Higgins. Taking a ride out on his mechanic’s bike, Haddington’s Paul McClung returns to the Lightweights as a former Scottish champion, saving his big bike for the Oulton Park British Superbikes meeting the following weekend.

Two trophies will be presented on Sunday – the winner of Sunday’s first Superbike race will be awarded the Frankie Dignan Memorial Trophy. The Jim Oliver Memorial Trophy recipient will be the Racer of the Meeting, voted for by race officials.

Three of the young riders involved in the 2018 British Talent Cup performed well at Knockhill two weeks ago and will take advantage of extra track time this weekend.

Rory Skinner and Lewis Paterson put on a good show and Skinner is joint leader in the Scottish Championship Formula 600 class. Also, Prestonpans youngster Davie will be mixing it with the Lightweights this weekend.

Bikes are on circuit from 9am on Saturday and there may be new rider assessments first followed by practice and qualifying. Sunday racing starts at about 9.30am.