North West 200: Ice man Simon in tune for big stage
British Superbike star Simon Andrews is on song for a Relentless North West 200 debut on May 21, hoping it will be second time lucky.
Andrews missed out last year after breaking a foot in the World Superbike round at Valencia, a month before the North West.
The 26-year-old Evesham rider has since moved from Kawasaki to join the Ice Valley BMW team, backed by former TT and North West competitor Paul Shoesmith.
Now, after checking out the 8.9- mile north coast triangle course with five-times North West winner Phillip McCallen, Andrews can't wait to unleash his ex-Jentin BMW S1000RR in the Superstock and Superbike classes.
He confirmed his entry in a top-class field at a Belfast press conference last night and also helped launch a new North West charity single by Co Derry band Furlo, with proceeds going to Marie Curie Cancer Care.
Andrews has competed on the streets of Macau but the North West will mark his UK road racing debut. And his appetite has been whetted after being taken on a tour of the course by legend McCallen.
“The North West has a quality reputation as a top notch road race,” raved Andrews. “I’ve watched the racing via on-board cameras on the web and on dvd and now I’ve seen the course in reality with expert Phillip McCallen.
“I just can’t wait to sample the atmosphere and excitement in the paddock and on the circuit and am looking forward to the close racing which can really only be experienced on the roads. It will also be hugely interesting to learn a brand new circuit.”
Grids for May 21 are now taking shape with Race Director Mervyn Whyte revealing details of the quality line-ups for the Superstock and two Supersport races.
Heading the entry list for the Supersport races, backed by Ballymoney Council and McKendry Fabrications, are TAS Relentless Suzuki duo Alastair Seeley and Guy Martin. Carrick racer Seeley chalked up a win in the first Supersport race last year and both will be top contenders again.
Also set for the grid is Ballymoney rider Michael Dunlop who picked up third and fifth positions in last year’s Supersport.
Michael will ride factory Kawasakis provided by Paul Bird’s World Superbike team in the Superbike and Superstock races and will compete on Yamaha machinery in the Supersport class. Manx rider Conor Cummins, currently recovering from his TT accident, will again ride for McAdoo Kawasaki, whilst Dungannon ace Ryan Farquhar will be on board a KMR Kawasaki and Cameron Donald, who is now riding for the Wilson Craig team, have both confirmed entries for the Supersport category.
Last year’s winner of the second Supersport race and a runner-up in the first, Ian Hutchinson, will ride for Shaun Muir on Yamaha machinery and New Zealander Bruce Anstey has moved to the Padgetts team. Also on the Supersport grid are East Coast Racing’s Gary Johnston, Waterford’s Brian McCormick and local heroes John Burrows, Adrian Archibald and Stephen Thompson.
The Superstock race will again be backed by Coleraine-based firm CP Hire as it celebrates 40 years in business in the area.
Managing director Andrew Hutchinson said: “It’s vital to support such a high-calibre local festival event which attracts additional visitors to the area and also raises the profile of Northern Ireland plc globally.”
Outlining confirmed riders Mervyn Whyte said: “Ryan Farquhar, who took a podium third last year and 2010 runner-up, Batley’s Ian Hutchinson, are set to compete as well as Alastair Seeley and Guy Martin.
“MSS Colchester Kawasaki riders Stuart Easton and Gary Mason are also on the Superstock grid alongside Simon Andrews, Cameron Donald and Bruce Anstey. West Midlands star Michael Rutter will also compete with local brothers William and Michael Dunlop completing the line-up.”