Road Racing News

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

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Photo courtesy of Rod Neill

This years Vauxhall international North West 200 has attracted a fantastic line up for both superbike races. Ten times North West 200 winner Alastair Seeley will be aiming for more wins around the triangle this year competing on a ZX10 Kawasaki superbike. Known as the wee wizard Alastair in recent years has being the rider to beat at the North West 200 and starts once again one of the pre race favourites for victory in both superbike races.

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Photo courtesy of Rod Neill

Honda Europe have one of the strongest line ups in the paddock with John McGuinness competing for the 20th time at North West 200 and Conor Cummins looking for his first win at the iconic road race. 20 times TT winner John McGuinness has being a six time winner at North West 200, the road racing legend’s last superbike win at North West was back in 2010 when John won a closely fought superbike race.

Conor Cummins was runner up that day and the two metre man is keen to chalk his first North West 200 victory. Now a factory Honda rider Conor is confident that the CBR 1000 SP Fireblade has the speed and handling to give him every chance of superbike race victories. Padgetts racing have backing from Valvoline this year and the team will be hoping its new colour scheme is a good omen for Bruce Anstey who is already nine times a North West 200 winner.

Bruce feels a win in either of the superbike races is possible this year, third place finish and a lap speed of 131.530 mph in senior TT last year proved that the rider from New Zealand is still a force to be reckoned with. Wilson Craig racing have teamed up this year for the North West 200 with one of the fastest rising stars in road racing Jamie Hamilton.

Jamie who made his North West 200 debut back in 2011 secured his first podium finish in 2013 finishing in third place in super twin races. For this year the rider nicknamed ” The Hammer” is competing on Wilson Craig racing’s high spec CBR 1000 Honda Fireblade superbike for both superbike races, Jamie is really happy with how the superbike is going and looks set to be in the mix for top results this year.

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Photo courtesy of Louis Porter, Lap Concepts

East Coast racing have secured backing from Pirtek for the Vauxhall international North West 200 and the team and Lee Johnston are confident that top results are more than possible in superbike races. Lee is competing on the teams CBR 1000 Honda Fireblade and having secured podium finishes at 2012 and 2013 North West 200’s General Lee as he is known to many has had a confident start to 2014 road racing season at Ian Watson spring cup road races at Oliver’s Mount securing 3rd and 4th place finishes.

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So the potential is there for Lee and East Coast racing to have two superbike races at this years North West 200. Tyco Suzuki by TAS have had a strong start to 2014 road racing season with Guy Martin being feature race winner at Ian Watson spring cup road races and William Dunlop winning supersport 600 race at Tandragee 100.

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Photo courtesy of Rod Neill

In 2012 the team won the feature North West 200 superbike race with Alastair Seeley and have every chance this year of another feature superbike win in particular given the good form both Guy Martin and William Dunlop have showed so far this season. William Dunlop believes the Tyco Suzuki by TAS superbike is capable of North West 200 wins this year and sees no reason why he can’t secure his first international road race superbike victory.

Kawasaki’s entry in the 2014 North West 200 is lead by Quattro Plant Muc off Kawasaki who are running 2013 lightweight TT winner James Hillier. James 4th place finisher in 2013 senior TT secured his first North West 200 podium finish during last years super twin finishing in second place. The rider nicknamed dynamite is one to watch in both superbike races, there’s a good chance podium finishes in both superbike races are possible for James especially given the Kawasaki’s fantastic speed on the straights at North West 200.

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Dean Harrison made his North West 200 debut back in 2011 and has since steadily improved around the triangle. RC Express racing Kawasaki rider Dean is looking forward to the first international road race of the season and having qualified 4th for both superbike races at last years North West 200 goes into this year confident that the bike has the potential to be up the near the front not only in qualifying but also in both superbike races.

Eleven times North West 200 winner Michael Rutter is BMW mounted this year for the superbike races competing for Bathams BMW. Michael over the last ten years at North West 200 has always being near the front and “Blade” is greatly looking forward to competing at one of his favourite events of the year. Team mate to Michael at Bathams BMW this year is Stephen Thompson, Stephen has being a top five finisher at North West 200 before and is excited about competing on the teams top spec S1000RR BMW superbike.

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Photo courtesy of Rod Neill

One of the biggest headlines in winter time in road racing was what was Michael Dunlop’s plans for 2014 road racing season, we all know now that the two time North West 200 winner is competing on a factory backed S1000RR BMW superbike. The 2014 North West 200 will be Michael’s first outing on the BMW superbike, BMW have being victorious at North West 200 back in 2010 when Keith Amor secured his first victory around the triangle when competing for WA Corless joinery/Jackson racing

There’s obviously a big chance this year that the famous manufacturer could secure victories in both superbike races and with Michael Dunlop’s on board the marques superbike who’s to say this will not happen. Josh Brookes shone on his debut at North West 200 last year finishing seventh in superstock race and qualifying third on the grid for the superbike races.

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For this year the third place finisher in 2013 British superbike championship is competing for Milwaukee Yamaha and sees no reason why he can’t win this year in both superbike races, given the R1 Yamaha superbike’s speed on the straights and Josh’s undoubted ability as a rider a debut North West 200 is on the cards for this year.

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But one of the main stories for this years North West 200 is the return of Ian Hutchinson. Ian on his return to racing last year won the Macau Grand Prix for the first time and can’t wait to get competing at North West 200 on the same Milwaukee Yamaha superbike that brought him a famous victory in 2013 at Macau Grand Prix.

Gary Johnson secured his first North West 200 podium finish in 2013 in the opening superstock race, the 2011 supersport TT race 2 winner is competing for JRC racing on the same CBR 1000 Honda Fireblade which he competed on last season and will start as another of the pre race favourites for victory in both superbike races.

Dan Kneen has being arguably rider of the year so far in road racing, the Cookstown/Burrows Engineering rider won on his debut the grand final at Cookstown 100 and won both superbike races again on his debut this time at Tandragee 100. Dan has proven the potential of Cookstown/Burrows Engineering GSX-R 1000 Suzuki superbike so far this season and is full of confidence going into North West 200.

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Keith Flint’s Team Traction Control are running Steve Mercer this year at North West 200 on a ex Tyco Suzuki by TAS superbike, Steve is looking forward this year to competing in both superbike races at North West 200. Paul Shoesmith’s Ice Valley by Motorsave ltd team have a dynamic presence for the superbike races with Paul himself competing along with Ben Wylie, both Paul and Ben are seasoned road racers and both are S1000RR BMW mounted along with North West 200 newcomers Laurent Hoffmann and Franck Petricola.

Danny Webb will make his highly anticipated North West 200 debut this year competing for Ryan Farquhar’s KMR Kawasaki team as will Peter Hickman who is also competing for Paul Shoesmith’s Ice Valley racing by Motorsave ltd and like the rest of his team mates is S1000RR BMW mounted for the superbike races.

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Rising road racing stars James Cowton, Michael Sweeney, Dan Cooper and Derek Sheils could all spring a surprise or two in both superbike races as could Simon Andrews who showed good form at last years North West 200, 2012 Macau Grand Prix podium finisher Simon is competing for Penz 13.com BMW alongside North West 200 newcomer Dan Kruger from Canada.

Overall its a mouth watering prospect the North West 200 superbike races for this year with factory backed teams from Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki and BMW plus rising stars, seasoned riders and exciting newcomers.

 

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