If there is one in class in particular that Alastair Seeley has arguably made his own, on his way to North West 200 greatness, it’s been the Supersport one.
The dominant 600 force last year on the coast roads, he remains with Gearlink Kawasaki for action in the middleweight category.
It’s fair to say if you are going to win a 600 race at the North West, you will have to beat the “Wee Wizard”.
Photo by Rod Neill
A whole host of hungry international road race winners, are confident of toppling the Triangle legend, amongst them includes his Tyco BMW team mate, Ian Hutchinson.
Now in his third year with Keith Flint’s Team Traction Control outfit, which now runs under the McAMS Yamaha banner, it remains to be seen as to whether he will be piloting next week, one of the 2017 YZF R6 Yamaha’s.
No matter what machinery it is, you can guarantee that the rider from Bingley will be contending for race honours, same applies to 2015 Duke Road Race Rankings champion, William Dunlop.
Winner of the invitational Supersport race at Cookstown, we all know the pedigree William has on 600 machinery.
Photo by Tommy Vennard
Piloting his trusty IC Racing/Caffrey International YZF R6 Yamaha, he’s quietly confident of challenging for race honours.
Underestimated by many, in my opinion he has a great chance next week of adding to his current tally of four victories around the Triangle.
Whilst brother Michael Dunlop, hasn’t yet competed on his own teams Yamaha in race trim.
Despite this, you can never ever discount him from running at the front. Same applies to six times international road race winner Lee Johnston.
Competing this year in the Jackson Racing fold on CBR 600RR Honda machinery, General Lee is a regular amongst the sharp end of the Supersport fields at international meetings.
Same applies to Gary Johnson, who is riding Lee’s East Coast Racing Triumph from last season.
A two times TT winner, he has fond memories of the 675 Daytona Triumph, none more so than his TT success in 2014.
This machine will be returning to the roads this year, with Smiths Racing and Peter Hickman. More known for his big bike exploits, Hicky has a depth touch as well on 600’s.
Photo by Rod Neill
A prime contender for at least podium finishes, you can attribute the same notion to the likes of Bruce Anstey (Padgetts Racing), 23 times TT winner John McGuinness (Jackson Racing), Michael Rutter (Bathams SMT Racing), Dean Harrison (Silicone Engineering Racing) and James Hillier (JG Speedfit Kawasaki).
Guy Martin is a late entrant with the Wilson Craig Racing CBR 600RR Honda, whilst rising stars to watch out for include James Cowton (McAdoo Kawasaki), Jamie Coward (Radcliffe’s Racing), Dan Hegarty (Top Gun Racing), Dan Cooper (Ruby Site Services Honda), Tom Weeden (Taylor Lindsey Honda) and Craig Neve.
Supersport revelation on the coast roads last year, Martin Jessopp (Riders Motorcycles Triumph) could well prove a dark horse for race wins.
Additional high calibre riders entered include Adam McLean (MSS/Hotties), Derek Sheils (Cookstown BE Racing), Michael Sweeney, Horst Saiger, IRRC great Marek Cerveny and Christian Elkin.
Newcomers to watch on the entry, Performance Racing Achterhoek’s Joey Den Besten, WH Racing’s Dominic Herbertson, Oliver’s Mount specialist Phil Stead, ECTA Racing’s Mark Purslow and Greenhous Vauxhall backed Barry Furber, all have the capabilities to wrap up top draw results.
Photo by Dave Kneen
When you think of Supersport competition on the famous Triangle roads, you sense close competition, the sound of six to seven bikes together, with nothing in it in the hunt for success.
Expect more of the same, next Thursday evening and on Saturday race day, as elite roads names a plenty target 600 glory at Northern Ireland’s most famous sporting event.
Words by Stevie Rial