North West pre­view

See­ley, Ir­win and Dun­lop set to bat­tle bar-to-bar at 200mph

MCN - - CONTENTS - By Stephen Dav­i­son ROADS RE­PORTER

The 2018 North West 200 looks set for a re­match of last year’s epic bat­tle be­tween Glenn Ir­win and Alas­tair See­ley in the main superbike race.

BSB star Ir­win’s chal­lenge to See­ley’s 21 race-win­ning dom­i­nance at the event has cap­tured the imag­i­na­tion of the fans as the pair have whipped the asses of the pure roads spe­cial­ists around the 8.9-mile North­ern Ir­ish sea­side cir­cuit.

Fresh from their early sea­son BSB and Bri­tish Superstock out­ings, the duo will ar­rive at Portrush ra­zor sharp. Ir­win fin­ished on the podium at Brands Hatch on the Be Wiser/PBM Du­cati and See­ley will ride a Tyco BMW. His re­la­tion­ship with the TAS team has pro­duced no less than 13 NW200 vic­to­ries, but See­ley’s new Tyco team-mate and NW200 out­right lap record holder, Michael Dun­lop, will be de­ter­mined to tear up the Ir­win/See­ley script. See­ley has pre­dicted ‘fire­works’ be­tween the pair and Ir­win’s claim that Dun­lop now re­fuses to speak to him be­cause he has never beaten the BSB rider in a road race will only add fuel to the flames!

It is hard to look be­yond these three rid­ers for the win­ner of the two superbike races but three other BMW rid­ers are cer­tain to be in the mix. Fresh from his Tan­dragee 100 vic­tory, Dan Kneen will be keen to im­press his new Tyco bosses at their home race, while Martin Jes­sopp (Rid­ers Mo­tor­cy­cles BMW), a dou­ble NW win­ner in 2017, and Peter Hick­man (Smiths BMW) will also pose a ma­jor threat. Honda Racing’s new re­cruit, Lee John­ston has won three NW200s while close friend and ri­val, Dean Harrison (Sil­i­cone Kawasaki), is still try­ing to break his podium duck. John­ston’s team-mate, Ian Hutchin­son, who fin­ished third in last year’s fea­ture Superbike race, has been passed fit to com­pete in his first road race since break­ing his leg in last year’s Se­nior TT. For­mer North West win­ner, Wil­liam Dun­lop and pre­vi­ous podium fin­ish­ers, James Hil­lier, and Gary John­son could prove to be dark horses as might Conor Cum­mins on the Pad­gett’s Honda. The Ram­sey man will want to main­tain the York­shire team’s im­pres­sive North West record in the ab­sence of Bruce An­stey. And, of course, you can’t rule out NW200 leg­end, Michael Rutter, for a win. The 46-year-old shares the record of nine big bike race wins on the Tri­an­gle cir­cuit with Joey Dun­lop. Rutter chalked up his 14th North West vic­tory in last year’s Su­per­twin event on Ryan Far­quhar’s KMR Kawasaki.

See­ley says there could be team ‘fire­works’ Rutter poised to take his­toric race win tally

Dun­lop will be a se­ri­ous threat on the BMW

See­ley has to be one of the top three favourites for NW200 podium fin­ish

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.