The Vauxhall International North West 200 takes place this week with a number of road racing’s top names set to take part.
It is the first international road race of the year following Irish nationals at the Mid-Antrim, Tandragee and Cookstown as well as the Spring Cup at Scarborough.
The event is scheduled to take place over three days – Tuesday 10th May, Thursday 12th May and Saturday 14th May. Practice sessions will take place on Tuesday and Thursday with racing taking place on Thursday evening and Saturday.
Tuesday 10th May
Roads are due to close from 9.15am until 3pm with practice sessions due to take place at the following times:
- Newcomers 09.45 – 10.15
- Supersport 10.30- 11.15
- Superbike 11.30 – 12.15
- Supertwin 12.30 – 1.15
- Superstock 1.30 – 2.15
Times are approximate and are subject to change.
Thursday 12th May
Roads are due to close for practice from 9.15am until 3pm with sessions due to take place at the following times:
- Supertwin 10.00 – 10.50
- Superstock 11.05 – 11.55
- Supersport 12.10 – 1.00
- Superbike 1.15 – 2.15
Roads are due to close for racing from 5.00pm until 9pm. The race schedule is as follows:
- Actavo Events Supersport Race (6 laps)
- Vauxhall Supertwin Race (4 laps)
- Spidi Superstock Race (6 laps)
Saturday 14th May
Roads are due to close for racing from 9.30am until 7pm. The race schedule is as follows:
- Betmclean.com Supersport Race (6 laps)
- Anchor Bar Superbike Race (7 laps)
- John M Paterson Supertwin Race (4 laps)
- CP Hire Superstock Race (6 laps)
- Vauxhall Superbike Race (7 laps)
Top names in the road racing world such as John McGuinness, Ian Hutchinson, Michael and William Dunlop, and Bruce Anstey will take to the Triangle circuit this week. With 26 wins between them competition will be fierce amongst them and a number of other accomplished riders. Along with the aforementioned riders, one of the most successful riders at the circuit – Michael Rutter – will once again take to the roads along with the fastest ever newcomer Peter Hickman and three time winner Lee Johnston.
All eyes, however, will be on whether Alistair Seeley can surpass Robert Dunlop’s record of 15 victories at the North West 200. After taking a hat-trick of wins in 2015 Seeley drew level but one race win this year will see him take the outright record.
Other notable riders to look out for include Horst Saiger, Ryan Farquhar, Jeremy McWilliams, and newcomer Malachi Mitchell-Thomas. Also keep an eye out for Ben Wilson, James Hillier, Dean Harrison and Martin Jessopp. Absences from this year’s event include last year’s impressive newcomer Glenn Irwin, Mar-train’s Dan Kneen, Cookstown BE Racing’s Jamie Hamilton and Tyco BMW’s Guy Martin. Irwin has chosen to focus on his BSB campaign this year while Martin has other commitments with the Tour Divide. Kneen and Hamilton are both injured. Kneen had a mountain bike accident last week and had to have surgery on his arm. Hamilton is still recovering from his serious accident at last year’s Isle of Man TT.
The 2015 event saw Seeley secure a trio of victories – two in the Supersport class and one in the Superbike class. Other winners at the event were Johnston – who won the Superstock event after a number of red flag delays – along with Ryan Farquhar and Jeremy McWilliams in the Supertwins. The feature North West 200 race was called off by race organisers due to the threat of high winds.
Being on the North Coast the weather can be changeable, with winds in particular causing disruption. Rain is also an issue and the event has been rained off on a number of occasions.
According to the Met Office the weather will be largely dry this week with conditions getting cooler towards the end of the week. Tuesday will see highs of 19 degrees with Thursday dropping to about 16 degrees but still dry. Saturday’s temperatures are set to drop to around 10 degrees but crucially the forecast is still dry.