"Play it again Steve!" This is what Lincolnshire star Steve Plater will be hoping for when he takes on some of the best road racers in the world in Saturday’s North West 200 – practice for which begins tonight (roads close at 5pm).
"I know the spotlight is on me as I had three wins last year," said Plater. “And before then I had a double in 2006 and a single Superbike win in 2007.
“All being well I should set some fast times tonight but I suppose it would be asking too much to beat my record of 123.34mph which I set when winning the Superbike Class last year."
Plater was involved in a tremendous battle with likable Aussie Cameron Donald and course specialist Michael Rutter. This trio could end up in the same position on Saturday but a lot will depend on the practice sessions.
Donald said: "Practice is very much an important part of the meeting but it’s not the end of the world – it’s the race that will count. I know some riders who try to reel off record laps in practice but as long as you qualify this should be enough."
Donald will be riding the TAS Suzukis of Hector Neill which have not had a road outing this year. Donald added: "I've only raced at Oulton Park on May Day Monday and I was a bit unlucky not to finish closer than I did. I'm ready and raring to go in practice and hopefully I will give a lot of my opponents some anxious moments.
“There is going to be a big effort tonight and I still recall last year’s races when I was so close in the Superbike and Superstock classes.
“If I ride up to the mark as I did last year when I was second to Steve Plater in the final Superbike heat I'll be pleased.
“Alastair Seeley edged me out last year in the Superstock along with Bruce Anstey and Bruce has done nothing this year except sit
on the side lines, but that is the way he likes it. He does this every season and then comes out and blows the opposition apart!
“Seeley is a tough contender and he is one man I will be watching. But I am happy with my machines and I am convinced that they are ready for the job. There is no point in saying that I will be the fastest tonight.”
Meanwhile, Plater has found himself in the position of being a modern day "Mister NW 200" because of his achievements in the past three years.
There was a time when Plater was very much an outsider in this race and he used to have to struggle to get on the podium, but that Superbike double in 2006 changed his fortunes and who will ever forget his treble from last year?
In the smaller classes we must look at Michael Dunlop because of his performance in winning the 250cc race only two days after his father Robert had been tragically killed. That was a tremendous effort and Michael and his brother William will be to the fore in the 250cc practice. The 600cc Supersport should also claim the attention of the two Dunlops while in the 125cc William Dunlop may start favourite.
Back to the Superbikes and as everyone knows this is the racing we all come to see and Michael Rutter will be bidding to make it 13 wins following what he hopes will be an encouraging practice on the NW 200 Yamaha.
Rutter is a man who says little but believes that actions speak volumes so it will be no surprise if he is top of the leader board to-night. But like the rest of the field he will have to watch Plater.