After months of speculation, meetings and deliberation, Vauxhall International North West 200 Race Director Mervyn Whyte has finally secured the services of leading British Superbike contender Josh Brookes – and the Tyco Suzuki newcomer will no doubt be looking for a debut podium at the May showpiece.
The Australian is the current British Superbike number two and riding for local team Tyco Suzuki, the 29-year-old will bring a new level of interest to the North Coast event – having previously competed at world level in both Supersport and Superbike.
Brookes is the ultimate adrenalin junkie and despite his commitment to winning this season's British Superbike Championship, he is also looking forward to making his 'between the hedges' debut at the North West 200 – before taking on the ultimate two-wheel challenge at the Isle of Man TT in June.
Despite a level of ambivalence coming from fans and certain corners of the media, Brookes remains upbeat about making his road racing debut at the Triangle, but was astutely deflective when quizzed on his aspirations.
"Of course I'd like to win at the North West; I like to win wherever I race, but there is a lot to take in before that can happen and local fans should really look towards Seeley and Dunlop this year," was the Aussie's opening gambit, before adding confidently: "Yes I race against most of the leading contenders week in and week out in the British championship, and I beat them regularly, but the roads are a whole new ball game.
"I have completed some laps in the car and also on a road going GSX-R1000 Suzuki, but until I get out there in practice, I'll really not know what to expect.
"I mean I don't encounter roundabouts in BSB, but I think I'll cope okay." Brookes currently house shares with former British motocross champion Gordon Crockard from Newtownards and the New South Wales man now considers himself a part-time Ulster local.
"The race track is right on the door step of the team and just up the road from where I live, so I consider it a local race for me," he explained. "The ideal scenario would be to slip in under the radar, but I know with the profile of British championship and the Tyco Suzuki team, that's not going to happen.
"But regardless, I'm looking forward to the whole event and I'm sure the atmosphere will be electric."
Brookes' opening laps on the 8.9-mile International North West 200 circuit will be during Tuesday night's May 14 practice session, decked out in the obligatory orange newcomers' bib.
He will then get to sample high-speed race action during his opening encounter on Thursday May 16 in the first Superstock race, and whether he places top three or top 10 – he's sure to be a popular addition to the Coleraine & District Motor Club's race entry.