Easton joins top names as North West revs up
Scottish ace Stuart Easton, who won last season's British Supersport title with local team Mar-Train Racing, is the latest big name to have his entry confirmed for this year's Vauxhall International North West 200 on May 17 ahead of the event launch at Titanic, Belfast today
Now back in the premier British Superbike class with Paul Bird's Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki team, Easton said: "The bike that I will race at the North West is the same bike that I will ride in BSB this year."
Following a week of testing his new machinery at Almeria in Spain, Easton was well-placed to add: "It is a great bit of kit the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki, and I feel very comfortable on it. I just need to get enough practice and I will be ready to go."
Team boss Paul Bird confirmed that his team would prepare Easton a specially tuned engine designed for the 200mph straights at the 8.9-mile North Coast circuit.
"Tuning an engine for the North West is a bit of a black art but I know that PBM will have it covered, and the team's engine builder Frank Wrathall will give me a motor that will be up to the job," Easton smiled.
"The team have won North Wests, TTs and world championship races and working with that experience makes my job so much easier. I just have to turn up and race!"
Easton is no stranger to road racing success, having won three Macau Grand Prix in recent years. His best North West result to date was a second place spot behind Alastair Seeley in the 2010 feature Superbike race.
Seeley will also be mounted on a ZX10R Kawasaki Superbike in Mar-Train Racing livery on May 17, and the duo are destined to renew the fierce rivalry that saw Easton pip his Carrickfergus opponent to the title in the final round of the British Supersport championship back in October.
Seeley leapt into the Mar-Train berth for this year after Eaton jumped at the chance to move back into the premier BSB class, and the 'Wee Wizard' will be a strong favourite to land team owner Tim Martin his maiden victory at the Triangle.
The North West 200 will be Easton's only domestic international road race in 2014, so he will be keen to grab a rostrum or two for Bird's PBM team.
"If we get the bike set up to my liking and I can get a couple of good results in the opening two BSB races at Brands and Oulton, I'd like to be challenging for a win at the North West," he said
All the top names at today's NW200 launch will remain for a ticket-only Meet The Riders event in Titanic tonight.
Meanwhile, evergreen Jeremy McWilliams claimed two wins with SGS KMR Kawasaki team boss Ryan Farquhar less than a second behind in race one on his return to racing from retirement at Bishopscourt where the Temple Club hosted the second round of the Irish short circuit championship.
Farquhar's team actually finished 1-2-3 in both Supertwin races. Keith Amor, also coming out of retirement to race for Farquhar's team, overtook Korie McGreevey on the last lap of race one to claim the final step on the rostrum and then in race two, Amor and Farquhar swapped places two and a half seconds behind McWilliams.
McWilliams (50) said: "I wanted to use this meeting to try out a few settings prior to the North West 200 and I'm glad we did, as we found our wet setting wasn't quite right. The bikes have changed slightly since last year and this was better than a track day somewhere. It has been a boost for the team to claim all three positions on the rostrum."
In the Superbike races there were wins each for Marshall Neill and Cody Nally while David Haire eased to an opening Supersport race victory.
Gary Gibson from Crossgar was the winner of the John Donnelly Motocross at Downpatrick, holding off the challenge from Dubliner Stuart Edmonds.