German precision is tuning up to conquer the Vauxhall North West 200.
May 12-18 Race Week will see a new BMW-mounted team take on the unique challenge of the famed north coast road racing circuit.
The Penz13.com BMW Racing Team will then tackle the next month's Isle of Man TT, pinning their hopes on a spectacular four rider line-up.
Team boss Rico Penzkofer, who has raced at the North West and finished as top newcomer in 2009, retired from racing after last year's Macau Grand Prix.
But the German star is still hooked on pure road racing and believes the Portrush-Portstewart-Coleraine Triangle course is a perfect fit for for the team's road racing debut.
"The roads always have been my passion and that's why I also want to heighten their profile by bringing my own team and a strong German squad,." Rico explained as he unveiled his 2013 plans.
English rider Steve Mercer (pictured) will be joined by the young German rider Steven Michels alongside Matsushita Yoshinari from Japan and Switzerland's Herve Ganthner in the four man team.
Mercer (31) is no stranger to the North West course and he is looking forward to racing the 8.9 mile circuit on the superfast BMW S1000RR Superbike this year.
"I'm delighted to be part of Penz13.com for 2013," he said as the team line-up was revealed. "I've raced Rico in different events over the last couple of years and have always been very impressed by the standard of his bikes and team. I welcome the opportunity to ride for a team with so much experience – particularly as for 2013 the team has been working with the BMW S1000rr and HP4 from day one. Hopefully I can add my experience into the team and between us we can get the results we are all looking for."
The 22 year old Steven Michels from Radebeul has already earned top 10 positions in the German Superbike Championship (IDM) and had a very successful debut at the International Road Racing Championship (IRRC) last year. He won at Schleiz and made a podium finish at Hengelo and Chimay in Belgium as well.
The squad will be strengthened by Swiss rider Herve Ganthner, who will also ride a BMW S 1000 RR in the Superbike and Superstock races.
The fourth rider in the 2013 line up will be Matsushita Yoshinari from Japan who has enjoyed a long association with the Penz13.com Racing Team, racing the BMW at the last two TTs and at the Macau Grand Prix 2012.
lORGANISERS of the annual Ballymena Easter Egg Run are hoping for a record turnout of bikers for their 20th anniversary ride in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care this Sunday.
A fiver gets you on the run, starting at 1.30pm from Downtown Furniture on Pennybridge Industrial estate, through the Glens to Carnlough and back to Ballymena Showgrounds for refreshments and a prize draw.