Road Racing News

FonaCAB International North West 200 In Association With Nicholl Oils: Preview – Part 3 – Superstock Races

BMW’s iconic S1000RR mount has proven in recent times the bike to beat in the Superstock class at the North West 200, will this continue to be the case next week?

It’s an immensely strong possibility, given the sheer amount of world class talent set to jockey the German Manufacturers vastly successful machine.

Set to compete under his own teams MD Racing banner, five times event victor Michael Dunlop has proven time and time again over the years, his pedigree on production 1000 machinery.

Although short on track time in comparison to his respected rivals, and according to reports nursing a still not officially confirmed injury, from a testing incident at Kirkistown, discount the Ballymoney roads genius at your peril from contending for race wins.

Same notion applies to outright Mountain Course lap record holder Peter Hickman. Ultra consistent, reliable and undoubtedly amongst the most race fit riders on the grid, it’s not surprising to hear many roads aficionados tout him as one of the prime contenders for Superstock class honours.

Photo by Tommy Vennard

Joining reigning Superstock NW200 race 1 winner Hickman in piloting this week S1000RR BMW machinery, are a series of further potential multi rostrum finishers, Bathams Racing’s Michael Rutter, Ashcourt Racing’s Lee Johnston and IRRC Superbike Championship leader Davey Todd.

Further depth to BMW’s Superstock NW200 presence, is added by Craig Neve, Daley Mathison (WH Racing), Italian star Stefano Bonetti, Phil Crowe, Brian McCormack and Michael Sweeney (Martin Jones Racing).

Looking towards Kawasaki’s challenge, lots of focus will be on reigning feature Superbike race champion Glenn Irwin.

No stranger of course to 1000cc machinery, the affable Irwin hasn’t any prior experience in the Superstock class at the North West 200.

Despite this fact, it would be a brave call to suggest he won’t feature at the sharp end of Wednesday evening, Saturday’s Superstock encounters.

Quattro Plant Wicked Coatings Kawasaki team mate James Hillier, is yet another potential podium contender, as is Silicone Engineering Racing’s Dean Harrison.

Photo by Tommy Vennard

Widely considered amongst the best racers to as yet not triumphed on the Triangle course, could this week finally see him join the NW200 winners circle?

It’s a similar scenario for RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki’s Gary Johnson, who like Harrison has scored multiple event podium finishes, but hasn’t yet stood on the top step of the podium.

Photo by Rod Neill

Outside of the aforementioned stars, added potential front runners include Honda Racing’s Ian Hutchinson.

Back to optimum race fitness, allied to growing confidence in the core team around him and an abundance of track time, he’s most definitely one to watch.

Commenting on the upcoming opening International roads meet of 2019, the 16 times TT winner stated:

“It has been a really good off-season and we’ve managed to get a lot of track time with a road bike, and also from the official team tests.

I gave the lads a bit of stick over the winter, but they have pulled out all the stops and all the bikes have been absolutely brilliant!

Everything is working really well and I can see the effort they have all put in, so I can’t thank them enough. Everything has gone in the right direction during testing, and I really feel ready for the North West 200 with all three bikes.

Personally I am in a totally different place coming into the races than I was last year, so I’m more excited than ever heading into the season.”

New Honda Racing team mate David Johnson, who’s crew chief this season is former roads competitor Darran Gilpin, like Hutchinson echoed nothing but positive vibes when looking ahead to Triangle course competition.

“I’m really happy with how pre-season testing has gone. I’m with a new team with Honda this year, but everything is working really well and I definitely feel ready to go racing now!

In all honestly, I felt ready even after the first test, but we have had the odd day here and there in-between and everything is working so well.

I’m looking forward to the North West 200, it’s our first race of the year and it’s a great one to kick start the season off with.

It’s always close racing and I think this year with the team, I’m in the best position I’ve been in a long time to really get things off the ground.”

Further notable racers set to tackle the six lap Superstock races include Conor Cummins (Milenco by Padgetts), Derek McGee, Paul Jordan (Dafabet Devitt Racing), Dominic Herbertson (Davies Motorsport), Jamie Coward (PreZ Racing), Horst Saiger, Derek Sheils (BE Racing In Conjunction With Richardson Kelly Racing).

Plus high profile newcomers including BSB race winner, National Superstock 1000 Championship leader Richard Cooper (Buildbase Suzuki), and IRRC Superbike front runner Erno Kostamo.

As in the Superbike, Supersport and Super Twins classes, the Superstock NW200 entry of 2019 has a great vibrant mix of works, semi works, international winning, ambitious next gen road racers.

Photo by David Maginnis

Pulsating action, dramatic over takes, bold moves, intoxicating competition, are just some of the phrases that spectators and the wider roads fraternity more than likely will be echoing this week.

As an abundance of Superstock wizards aiming to accomplish just one goal, race wins at the FonaCAB International North West 200 In Association With Nicholl Oils.

Words by Stevie Rial