North West 200: Jamison signing up to party
The opulent surroundings of Belfast’s Merchant Hotel was the venue of choice for yesterday’s official launch of the 2011 Relentless Energy International North West 200.
Top riders Guy Martin, Alastair Seeley, William Dunlop, Michael Rutter and Stuart Easton were on hand to breathe life into the May 21 showpiece — with local man Kirk Jamison announced as the latest high profile newcomer to the North Coast event.
Jamison has been a regular competitor in the Irish short circuit championship for almost 10 years, and after finishing last season’s Irish Supersport series in second place, the 30-year-old Greyabbey man decided it was time to tick the North West 200 box.
“I have always said I wouldn’t turn to road racing but have never hidden the fact that the North West is one event I really want to experience,” said Jamison.
By competing at the North West, Jamison will further replicate the racing career of his father Norman who was a multiple Irish Road Race champion in the 90s and also competed at the North West 200 and the Isle of Man TT.
It will be a hectic debut for Jamison as, not only will he compete in the Superstock and Superbike races aboard the Jim Angus Contracts BMW1000RR, which he recently purchased from Keith Amor, he will also take in the Supersport races after agreeing terms with Mar-Train Racing to continue the partnership, which brought them the runners-up spot in the 2010 Irish Supersport Championship.
There is no doubting that Jamison heads to the famous ‘Triangle’ with a stable of very competitive machinery, but the commercial manager remains realistic about his goals on the day.
“I don’t expect to be making any headlines,” he added. “I just want to go and enjoy the event and give my sponsors a great day out. If, after the opening practicesession, I’m only good enough for the second group, then so be it.
“The depth and quality of the field at the North West is not to be underestimated, but I have set myself some goals and targets — the main one: to enjoy the experience.”
At the other end of the scale is Lincolnshire rider Guy Martin, a new recruit to the Relentless Suzuki by TAS team for 2011, where he will partner double NW200 winner from 2010, Carrick’s Alastair Seeley.
Martin’s brand of humour, fast-talking and large sideburns, have brought him a cult following in the international road racing paddock.
But will 2011 be the year the Grimsby docks engineeringworker finally bags his first NW200 victory?
“Well I’m now with the best team in the paddock to do it with, boy,” he said.
“I’ve no excuses. Everyone knows the pedigree of the TAS team and their bikes are well proven, so hopefully we can get the Suzukis up there on the top step and give Relentless and all the other sponsors something to get excited about.”
Local favourite William Dunlop was also present at the launch, and although no official announcement has been made, the former NW200 2-stroke winner is expected to be Wilson Craig Honda mounted this season.
His brother Michael wasn’t able to attend yesterday’s press launch but has been named as a potential new recruit to Paul Bird’s official Kawasaki stable.
This year’s revamped five-race programme will comprise two Superbike, two Supersport and a Superstock race. That amounts to a powerful line-up of 1000cc Superbikes and Superstocks and 600 Supersports. Superbikes will kick off the day, followed by Supersport and Superstock races. The second Supersport race will take penultimate position with a NW200 Superbike finale.