Who would have thought in 2019, that it would be three years till racing returned to one of pure road racing’s majors, jewels in the crown, the FonaCAB & Nicholl Oils North West 200. Organisers have been tirelessly making sure the event is in good shape, for it’s return which will now bear fruit in minus two weeks time. A who’s who of International road racing plus high-profile roads returnees are Coleraine bound including reigning feature race Champion Glenn Irwin. Making no secret of his desire to compete to dominate Superbike competition around the world-famous Triangle course, his latest NW200 tenure sees him race for the illustrious factory Honda Racing team. Winner of all three races at the BSB season opener at Silverstone, he’s gelled nicely with Honda’s latest Fireblade incarnation and is considered by many firm favourite for more NW200 Superbike triumphs. Competitors keen to wrestle away his big bike crown include notable International road racing returnee Josh Brookes. Yes it’s been eight years since he last tackled the Triangle and early season BSB endeavours have provided a range of challenges but class is permanent and in my opinion he will be a definite front running factor next week aboard the PBM (Paul Bird Motorsport) Ducati. Another highly likely front runner, well that’s putting it mildly! Is the most successful rider in NW200 history, Alastair Seeley. Keen to reassert his authority, the ‘Wee Wizard’ races IFS Global Logistics supported Yamaha machinery, which he has proven untouchable on during opening Ulster Superbike Championship rounds. Is a first 1000cc success since 2015 on the horizon for the Carrickfergus racer? It’s going to be a tough ask as the opposition is mighty. World’s fastest road racer Peter Hickman, as yet hasn’t cracked an NW200 Superbike win. This could very well change next week, as he bids to give FHO Racing their first International road race victory. Additional potential front runners include DAO Racing’s Dean Harrison, James Hillier (Rich Energy OMG Racing Yamaha) and Richard Cooper (Buildbase Suzuki). Added depth to BMW Motorrad’s challenge alongside aforementioned Hickman, racing older spec S1000RR, new spec M1000RR models is provided by 16 times TT winner Ian Hutchinson (Milwaukee BMW Motorrad), Brian McCormack (Roadhouse Macau/FHO Racing). Gary Johnson, Lee Johnston (Ashcourt Racing) and event legend Michael Rutter (Bathams Racing). Not forgetting the in-form Michael Sweeney (Martin Jones Racing), Open, Grand Final races winner at the 100th Anniversary KDM Hire Cookstown 100. The iconic Padgetts Racing team titled supported again by Milenco has a strong line-up, headed by Manxman Conor Cummins and National Superstock 1000 front-runner Davey Todd. Like fellow Honda runner John McGuinness MBE, they have the ability to contend for rostrums, victories but as previously mentioned the competition is tough. It’s going to take in my opinion all of their combined herculean like determination, iron grit, aptitude, talent to be in the mix for first rate results. We must not forget as well that the world class SBK field, also features 2021 IRRC Superbike Championship runner-up Lukas Maurer, Adam McLean (McAdoo Kawasaki), Dominic Herbertson, Laurent Hoffmann, Paul Jordan (PreZ Racing). Jamie Coward (KTS Racing), notable newcomers Michael Evans (Heattech Racing), Julian Trummer (WH Racing), former Moto GP/World Supersport exponent James Ellison and the roads scene genius that is Michael Dunlop, what will he be racing? Overall, a quite brilliant entry for the NW200 Superbike races of 2022. Race fans are buzzing with excitement, anticipation for more scintillating SBK coast roads action. When you mix works riders, high level independent/privateer competitors, and hungry next generation closed roads exponents, you know your guaranteed first-class action. Expect this and some soon, with 40 plus riders set to battle it out, for big bike success, at the returning FonaCAB & Nicholl Oils North West 200. Photo’s by Rod Neill, Tommy Vennard, Stephen Davison, Allister Dickson – Startline Photography Words by Stevie Rial #dontletfearcontrolyou
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