Excitement is growing ahead of the 2014 Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Southern 100 International Road Races.

The Company is proud to be headline sponsor of the ever-popular races at the Billown course for the 15th year in a row, and the 2014 ‘friendly races’ look set to be absolute thrillers.

Running from July 7th to 10th, the Southern 100 programme features 13 races around the 4.25-mile road course near Castletown, including the prestigious Solo and Sidecar Championship races. The festival concludes with the unique open-air prize presentation in Castletown Square on the Thursday evening, culminating in a firework display.

TT favourite Guy Martin, the reigning Solo Champion, returns and will be competing with the likes of multiple TT-winner Michael Dunlop, Solo Champion in both 2011 and 2012, and last year’s Man of the Meeting Dean Harrison, who won his first TT race this year.

Conor Cummins and Dan Kneen, who the Steam Packet Company is proud to be supporting in 2014, will also be in action, alongside impressive rising road racing stars like Ivan Lintin, Jamie Hamilton and James Cowton.

The sidecar class is also packed with quality, including the return of seven-times sidecar champion Dave Molyneux, now a 17-times TT winner. He will be up against fellow TT winners Tim Reeves, Conrad Harrison, Ian Bell, John Holden and Roy Hanks, plus many more outfits.

There will be a truly international flavour to the meeting, as racers from England, Scotland, Wales, North Ireland, Eire and the Isle of Man are joined by competitors from Austria, Italy, Australia, The Netherlands and Germany.

History will be made at the 2014 Southern 100 when, for the first time ever, an electric bike will compete against traditional internal combustion engine motorcycles at a pure road race. Island team Darvill Racing will be running the Brammo factory-supported effort.

The Steam Packet Company was delighted to assist Darvill Racing attend the International Festival of Business in Liverpool on June 9th, to join a demonstration of the Isle of Man’s clean technology sector alongside the Department of Economic Development.

The weather meant the machines couldn’t be demonstrated as planned, but Darvill was able to lend one of its bikes to former BSB racer and SuperBike magazine reviewer Chris Northover, who showed off his stunt and off-road skills, as well as the bike’s capabilities, trying out rolling burnouts, stoppies, wheelies and powerslides on cobblestones, in the wet!

Team Principal Alex Aitchison said: ‘That didn’t faze Chris and also proved that these bikes are “proper” bikes and can no longer be called a “gimmick”.’

However, all eyes are now on the Southern 100. Alex added: ‘This is the big one, we will be making history as we become the first team ever to compete with electric bikes against motorcycles with internal combustion engines on the roads. We will be using a stock Brammo Empulse R converted to Superstock specifications and competing in the 125cc/400cc class. We will be down on top speed against both ICE machine types, but more than make up for it in acceleration and cornering speed. We can’t wait.’

Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward added: ‘The company is very proud to have such a longstanding association with the Southern 100, and as we mark our 15th year as headline sponsors, it looks like the racing will be fantastic, with full grids, star names and, of course, Darvill Racing aiming to make history.

‘We hope all visitors and locals who go to the racing have a fantastic time.’

Photograph: Action from the 2013 Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Southern 100 International Road Races (Glynne Lewis)