Road Racing News

Vauxhall International North West 200 Preview – Part 1 – Superbike Races

There’s a world class entry list for the superbike races, at the Vauxhall International North West 200.


The Honda Racing duo of John McGuinness and Conor Cummins, go into the North West 200, confident of securing results of the highest quality, having enjoyed a productive two day testing session last week at Castle Combe.

23 times TT winner John McGuinness is as motivated as ever going into competition around the Triangle, the same notion applies to Conor Cummins.


Photo by Double Red

In my opinion both factory Honda riders, are potential podium finishers, but not amongst the prime favourites for race wins.

Ten times North West 200 winner Bruce Anstey, will once again start one of the pre race favourites, as he leads the Padgetts Racing challenge.

Already established as an all time pure road racing great, Bruce has enjoyed sustained success with Padgetts, since joining the Batley based outfit in 2011.

It would not surprise anyone if Bruce, makes it 12 victories around the Triangle, via the superbike encounters.

Additional leading Honda mounted runners include Jackson Racing’s Steve Mercer, who showed good form at the Spring Cup National Road Races at Oliver’s Mount.

Plus making a welcome return to the Giant Causeway based meeting, Cameron Donald, leading the Wilson Craig Racing challenge.


Kawasaki have arguably the strongest presence of any manufacturer, at the opening international road race of the year.

Peter Hickman has proved a natural on the roads, since he took to pure road racing in 2014. Returning to the NW200 for the first time since making his debut two years earlier, he’s all set to pilot an ultra high spec ZX10R Kawasaki for GB Moto Racing.

Tipped by many to enjoy a quite momentous meet, in my opinion without putting to much pressure on Peter, I firmly believe he has a great chance of winning the feature superbike race.

He has temperament, ability and determination, to seal this significant feat.

James Hillier, Quattro Plant Muc Off Kawasaki, is a definite podium contender. The 2013 lightweight TT winner will have one eye on TT 2016 at the North West 200, as he builds up his preparations for action around the world famous, Mountain Course.


Photo by Jim Gibson

Silicone Engineering Racing’s Dean Harrison, is a dark horse, for top three finishes. It’s fair to say Dean has not had much luck at the Portstewart based meet since making his debut in 2012.

Despite this, we all know he has the proven talent, to ruffle many of the anticipated leading lights, near the sharp end of the field.


Photo by Mixed Bag Photography

Devitt RC Express Racing duo of Ivan Lintin and Alan Bonner, are both one’s to watch, as they like many, build up to the upcoming TT 2016.

Additional stand out Kawasaki entries include Ben Wilson and Gearlink Kawasaki, Horst Saiger, Craig Neve, Seamus Elliott, Michael Sweeney, Jonathan Howarth, Gareth Keys, Matthew Rees, Forest Dunn and newcomer Josh Day.


Over the winter, without a doubt the biggest move amongst the world’s leading pure road racers, was in the form of Ian Hutchinson moving to Tyco BMW.

The 11 times TT winner has gelled extremely quickly with the outfit, which has enjoyed sustained success at the North West 200.


Photo by Jim Gibson

At present he has just two North West 200 victories, I think it’s fair to say there’s an incredibly good chance that this tally of wins will improve next week.

Will he add feature NW200 superbike race success to his already stellar track record at the international’s? time will tell but one thing’s for sure Hutchy is confident he has the machinery to propel him to feature race victory.

Next week could well see, a piece of motorsport history as Alastair Seeley bids to become the most successful rider in North West 200 history.

Currently level with Robert Dunlop on 15 victories, it’s Lee Hardy Racing’s S1000RR BMW superbike, that could well be the bike to take him to this incredible achievement.

After all the constant team changes over the last couple of years, Michael Dunlop carries a well needed touch of stability going into his opening roads outing of the year.

We all know his ability, talent, determination, sheer will to win, but the question is does the Hawk Racing S1000RR BMW, the machinery to propel him to superbike victories?

Gary Johnson, Penz BMW, new to BMW Motorrad machinery around the Triangle is yet another podium contender as is 13 times North West 200 winner Michael Rutter.

Michael and the Bathams SMT Racing S1000RR BMW, could well prove one of the hardest combinations to beat.


Photo by Rod Neill

Having had a high speed incident at the Spring Cup National Road Races, at Oliver’s Mount, Lee Johnston is battling to be fit, to compete on the East Coast Racing S1000RR BMW superbike.

Providing he’s ready for competition, General Lee cannot be discounted, from recording at least one superbike race win.

Added rising stars piloting S1000RR BMW’s include Martin Jessopp, David Johnson, Dan Cooper, Sam West and 2014 Duke Road Race Rankings champion James Cowton.

BMW Motorrad’s significant presence is showcased further by four time IRRC superbike champion Didier Grams, the vastly experienced Paul Shoesmith, John Ingram and newcomer Danny Webb.

Whilst one of the eye catching anticipated combinations, is in the form of Ryan Farquhar, joining Ian Hutchinson in the Tyco BMW fold.


Mar Train Racing’s Dan Kneen has enjoyed a top class start to his 2016 roads campaign, following open and grand final victories at the Tandragee 100, plus third place finish in the grand final at the Cookstown 100.

Confident of sealing top class results, Dan and Mar Train Racing, are optimistic, that the YZF R1M Yamaha, can mix it with the anticipated front running BMW’s, Kawasaki’s and Honda’s.


Photo by Rod Neill

Reigning Irish road race superbike champion William Dunlop, is the only other rider entered, on a YZF R1M Yamaha.

The 2014 superbike race one winner, is without a doubt one of the strong favourites for supersport victories, he cannot be discounted though, from running near the sharp end on the Ivan Curran/CD Racing YZF R1M Yamaha.

Round Up:

Six manufacturers are in total represented in the superbike field, at the 2016 Vauxhall International, North West 200.

Bimota Racing return with Ben Wylie and Brandon Cretu, whilst the Suzuki challenge, is set to be lead by newcomer and Duke Road Race Rankings championship leader Malachi Mitchell Thomas, on the Cookstown BE Racing superstock GSX-R 1000 Suzuki.


Photo by Rod Neill

Since 2010 Alastair Seeley, has proved the rider everyone has to beat, to win a superbike race, around the historic and famous Triangle circuit.

With multiple potential race winners, plus rising stars all determined to claim many a famous scalp, the challenge is on for Alastair, to try to continue his status as the one they all have to beat.


The stage is set for two thrilling superbike encounters, who’s going to win will it be Alastair Seeley, will it be Ian Hutchinson, will it be Peter Hickman, could a dark horse surprise everyone, we will all find out soon.

Words by Stevie Rial

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