Digital Edition Subscribers: Read Roadracing World Magazine Now >
Roadracing - An Online Service of Roadracing World Magazine
May 13, 2019

North West 200 Is Happening This Week In Northern Ireland

Alastair Seeley, a 24-time winner at the North West 200, will be racing a Be Wiser Ducati V4 R in Superbike and a EHA Racing Yamaha YZF-R6 in Supersport. Photo by Stephen Davison, courtesy of North West 200 Press Office.

Honda Racing raring to get roads campaign underway at the International North West 200

Honda is ready to get its 2019 road racing campaign underway as Ian Hutchinson and new recruit, David Johnson, have arrived at the International North West 200 ready to kick off proceedings tomorrow.

Wrapping up pre-season testing on a high, the Honda Racing team has enjoyed vast amounts of track time across the off-season in Europe, as well as various UK circuits, including the team’s favourite; Castle Combe in Wiltshire, in preparation for the NW200, the Isle of Man TT and the Ulster GP.

Working closely with Dunlop throughout all tests both Hutchinson and Johnson have been testing different tyre compounds, as well as working with new suspension partner K-Tech, to fine-tune settings ready for the start of the road-race season.

At the NW200 Honda’s road racing experts will contest the Superbike and Superstock races aboard the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2, as well as the Supersport races on CBR600RR machinery at the 8.970-mile road circuit.

Action at the NW200 gets underway tomorrow (Tuesday 14 May) with First Practice, there’s further practice and racing on Thursday (16 May), as well as racing all-day on Saturday (18 May). Get the full 2019 International North West 200 practice and race schedule here.

For all information on the team during the North West 200 and the Isle of Man TT races, make sure to follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Ian Hutchinson 4

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 for 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.

David Johnson 9

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.

Jonny Twelvetrees

Team Manager

I think we’re in a really good position heading into the NW200 and then shortly after the TT. We have a great team who have been pulling out all the stops for both Ian and Davo to make sure they have everything they need, and also that they’re happy with the machines. It’s going to be busy for us this year as we have six bikes in total for both of the guys in Superbike, Superstock and Supersport, but all the feedback from the tests have been positive and we have two very happy riders.

More, from a press release issued by North West 200 Press Office:


The ‘will they or won’t they’ saga surrounding John McGuinness racing the Norton at the 2019 fonaCAB International North West 200 in association with Nicholl Oils has ended with the British manufacturer announcing the six times North West winner will compete in this year’s races.

McGuinness will ride the SG8 superbike in what will be the Norton’s first appearance in Ireland. The 47 year old will also race the new 650cc Superlight bike in both Supertwins events on May 12-18.

Norton had hoped to run their new V4 engine 1200cc engine in the SG8 superbike at the NW200 and TT but the regulations prohibit machines of more than 1000cc capacity. The British manufacturer has now returned to the 1000cc V4 Aprilia motor which had been used previously.

‘It has taken a lot of sorting out but it has all come together at the 11th hour.’ McGuinness smiled as he returns to the venue where he broke his leg in a 2017 practice crash. The injury has seen him miss the NW200 for the last two seasons.

The Morecambe racer has been intensively testing the Norton over the past couple of months.

‘I was at Rockingham last week and I have been banging in the miles at Bruntingthorpe, Anglesey, Cadwell, Croft, Castle Combe and Oulton.’ McGuinness explained. ‘I’ve had to be patient and it has been a long wait but now I can’t wait to get stuck in at the North West.’

McGuinness says he is happy with the performance of the Norton superbike after over a decade of racing Hondas.

‘I matched the times I did on the Honda when we tested at Castle Combe so the bike isn’t a million miles away.’ he said. ‘The engine is more powerful and the bike has lots of speed and stability. The team is good, the tyres are good and we have been doing the work. I haven’t raced at the North West since I snapped my leg in half two years ago but I am going into the event with an open mind and I am optimistic we can do OK.’

McGuinness admitted to having some nerves about making his UK road racing comeback.

‘I am excited but I will be nervous as well, especially going into Primrose where it nearly all ended two years ago.’ he said. ‘I wouldn’t be human if I wasn’t.’

McGuinness also has entries for both the Supersport and Superstock races at the NW200 but doesn’t have machinery available at this stage.

‘We are delighted to have John, one of the North West’s longest serving riders, back racing with us in the 90th anniversary year.’ Event Director, Mervyn Whyte, MBE, said. ‘The Norton will also be a huge attraction for local road racing fans who will have the chance to see and hear the superbike on the famous Triangle circuit. John will debut the Superlight Norton racer in the Supertwin races which adds even more interest to a class that already enjoys a very impressive line-up for 2019.’


Norton boss Stuart Garner is delighted the factory team is returning to the North West for the first time since the glory years of the early 1990s when Robert Dunlop and Trevor Nation dominated the superbike races at the event on the black and gold JPS rotary engined machines.

‘It is great to take the Norton brand back racing there and to draw a line under what has been a dark chapter in John’s career.’ Garner said. ‘If we can get a respectable result as well we will be over the moon. A podium or a top ten finish would be great.’


Alongside competing on the SG8 superbike at the North West 200, John McGuinness will make his road racing debut on the 650cc Norton Superlight machine in both Supertwin races at Portrush.

McGuinness will be the British manufacturer’s sole representative on the new twin with his Norton teammates in the class, Peter Hickman and Davey Todd, sitting out the North West races.

‘It has all been a bit last minute and working with one rider is enough for us to deal with.’ Norton boss, Stuart Garner explained. ‘We don’t have time to put together three bikes and we don’t want to dilute our effort with John and the new bike.’

McGuinness has been testing the 650 alongside the superbike in recent tests.

‘I have ridden the twin at Rockingham and did 20 laps at Anglesey plus a few at Croft.’ McGuinness explained. ‘I am still trying to understand the bike as it is new territory for me. I’ve ridden 125s, 250s, electric bikes, all kinds during my career, but this is my first time on one of these.’

With Glenn Irwin, Michael Rutter, Dan Cooper, Jeremy McWilliams, Derek McGee and Stefano Bonetti lining up on the North West grid aboard an array of well sorted Paton and Kawasaki machinery, it will be a stern test for the new Norton in this ultra competitive class.

More, from a press release issued by North West 200 Press Office:


The most successful racer of all time at the fonaCAB International North West 200 in association with Nicholl Oils, Alastair Seeley, will be chasing his silver anniversary success at the 90th birthday celebrations of the North coast event on May 12-18.

The Carrickfergus racer already enjoys 24 NW200 wins, adding another treble to his tally in 2018. Mounted on the PBM/Be Wiser Ducati V4 R in this year’s Superbike races and the EHA Yamaha R6 in both Supersport events, Seeley is confident he can claim his 25th victory on the 8.9 mile Triangle circuit.

‘Twenty five would be nice.’ a confident Seeley smiled. ‘I would like to get the job done on Thursday night in the Supersport race because that takes some of the pressure off and anything else we can do will be a bonus.’

The 39 year old will only have four chances for more North West success though as he is not competing in either of the two Superstock races this time around. Riding the Tyco BMW, Seeley won a stunning battle with Peter Hickman in Saturday’s CP Hire backed contest twelve months ago but Paul Bird’s Ducati squad cannot supply a stock spec machine for the 2019 races.

‘When I rode for Tyco BMW the team had bikes available for the superbike and stock races but I would have to ride for three different teams this year and that would mean too much jumping about.’ Seeley explained. ‘I would have three different teams to work with, three different debriefs to attend and three different bikes to set up. Plus three sets of leathers to be constantly changing.’

Instead Seeley will focus his efforts on his EHA Yamaha in the 600cc events and the challenge of finding a race winning set up for the new Ducati on its North West debut.

‘I will be able to concentrate all my efforts on the Supersport and Superbike races.’ he said.

Seeley has enjoyed a successful start to his 2019 British Supersport championship campaign with two runner up finishes on the EHA Yamaha to reigning champion, Jack Kennedy at Silverstone’s opening round.

‘It was a strong start, with two solid podium finishes after fighting for the race wins.’ the Carrickfergus rider said. ‘I don’t think the rest of the year will be any different in the series and that type of tight racing has helped get me up to speed for some bar banging at the North West!

‘Apart from a couple of spins on Josh Brookes’s bike at the BSB test at Portimao in March I haven’t ridden the Ducati.’ Seeley explained.

His initial impressions after the brief ride in Portugal were positive though.

‘It felt nice to ride but not really, really fast which is a good thing.’ he smiled. ‘Something that doesn’t feel fast but is fast is ideal for the North West and the power delivery is very smooth and linear.’

The Carrick racer has also been keeping tabs on the development of the V4 R with the PBM team’s BSB riders, Brookes and Scott Redding.

‘Josh and I were teammates for a couple of years at Tyco and I have spent a lot of time talking and listening to him about the Ducati.’ Seeley explained. ‘There were problems at Silverstone but there are new parts arriving all the time to help with development. Josh was fastest at the BSB test at Oulton last week and seems to have hit a sweet spot with the bike now. The team is planning a two day test for me next week before the North West begins and we will need that track time to get set up and feel comfortable because this is a brand new bike.’

More, from a press release issued by Buildbase Suzuki:

Buildbase Suzuki returns to North West 200 as Cooper makes road racing debut

The Buildbase Suzuki team returns to the International North West 200 this week, with Richard Cooper set to make his road racing debut at the high profile event that runs over the course of a week at its picturesque north coast location in Northern Ireland.

Cooper – who currently leads the National Superstock 1000 championship for Buildbase Suzuki – will campaign superbike and superstock-spec Suzuki GSX-R1000R machinery around ‘The Triangle’ circuit. And the Nottinghamshire ace is no stranger to either, having won the final British Superbike race of 2018 with Buildbase Suzuki and winning at the opening two rounds of this year’s superstock championship.

Despite boasting a wealth of racing experience, this year’s North West 200 is Cooper’s first foray into the world of road racing, and while he has his own expectations and goals, he’s approaching it with a level head.

Richard Cooper, “Now we’re here the excitement and anticipation has gone up a notch, but it hasn’t changed our approach. I have come here with some aims in my mind – I think any rider goes to a new event or to compete somewhere new with a bit of an idea of what they can do, what they can achieve, and where they want to be – but the main one is to learn and improve as the week goes on. I know I’ve got a good team around me and a team that is vastly experienced on the roads, and if I work hard and come away with strong performances I’ll be happy.

“As far as road race debuts go, there aren’t many bigger events to do it than the North West 200. I’d been looking to take this step for a couple of years to be honest and I was only going to do it when everything came together. But the plan was always to come here; it’s a great event, great fans, a really strong field. I’m excited to get going, but we’ll be taking it step-by-step.”

Cooper will get his first taste of the North West 200 circuit when practice gets underway tomorrow [Tuesday 14 May], before the opening Superstock race on Thursday evening [16 May]. He will then contest three races on Saturday [18 May], with two superbike races and the second superstock race.

More, from a press release issued by Quattro Plant Wicked Coatings Kawasaki:

Irwin and Hillier to Spearhead Team Green Assault on NW 200

The Quattro Plant Wicked Coatings Kawasaki team head to the first road race of the season this week, with Glenn Irwin and James Hillier set to contest the high-speed International North West 200 in Northern Ireland from 14th to 18th May.

The races celebrate their 90th anniversary this year and will again be held on the 8.9-mile circuit which links the towns of Portstewart, Coleraine and Portrush with both riders expected to be challenging for the race wins in the Superbike, Superstock and Supersport classes.

It will be Irwin’s first time at the event with the team but he’s no stranger to success at the venue having won the last three Superbike races there in superb fashion. Indeed, he dominated proceedings 12 months ago to take a double victory and is now looking to do the same on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR.

The Ulsterman made his debut at the meeting in 2015 when he took a stunning second place in the second Supersport race and returned two years later to claim his first Superbike win.

With two rounds in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship now under his belt, the 28-year-old will again contest two races in the Superbike category but also the Superstock class which he’ll contest for the first time. He’ll also ride a Kawasaki for KTS Racing in the two Lightweight races.

Hillier, meanwhile, is back at the North West 200 with the team for a 11th consecutive year and will join Irwin in the Superbike and Superstock races. However, he’ll also compete in the two Supersport races on the Kawasaki ZX-6R.

It was in the Supersport class where he performed best last year with two superb second-place finishes behind Alastair Seeley, the most successful rider in the history of the meeting with 24 wins, following on from a third-place finish in 2017.

The Hampshire rider is still searching for his first victory at the event, but his two podiums of 2018 made it six in total now, while he’s also claimed an impressive 30 top-ten finishes since making his debut in 2010.

Practice takes place on Tuesday and Thursday with the first two races, for Superstock and Supersport, scheduled to take place on Thursday evening. The second Superstock and Supersport races will take place on Saturday along with the two feature Superbike races.

Glenn Irwin said: “I’m really looking forward to heading up to the north coast as it’s a really nice part of the world and as well as the racing, I get to go away with the family for the week which is obviously nice.

“The racing’s ultimately why we’re there though and I feel like I turned a bit of a corner with both the bike and my confidence in the second race at Oulton Park last time out, so I’m keen to show what we can do on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR in both the Superbike and Superstock races.

“I’m still relatively new to the NW200, and the number of laps I’ve done compared to everyone else is pretty minimal, so having more races this year will be invaluable and I’m looking to fully utilise all the track time I’m going to get.

“I’ve done more homework and preparation than ever before and I’m learning all the time with the bike so, with the fantastic package the team have given me, let’s see what we can do.”

James Hillier said: “It feels like we’ve had a long wait for the road racing season to finally get under way so I’m raring to get going now. We’ve had a good pre-season of testing both abroad and at the opening two rounds of the British Superbike Championship and I feel that we’ve got as good a package as anyone so feel confident about our chances.

“The Supersport class has given me my best results at the North West 200 in recent years so there’s no reason why we won’t be competitive again this time around and, in the Kawasaki ZX-10RR, we have a great bike for both the Superbike and Superstock classes.

“We’ve got a busy week ahead with practice and six races across Thursday and Saturday but staying with the same team gives me great stability and consistency and we all know our jobs so we’re ready to get stuck in.”

Top 5 This Week