Jeremy McWilliams in Super step-up for NW200 after Dan Kneen’s bad break
Former 250cc Grand Prix winner Jeremy McWilliams will replace Dan Kneen in the Mar-Train Yamaha team for this week’s Vauxhall International North West 200, after the Manxman broke an arm in a mountain bike crash.
McWilliams, who turned 52 last month, is a double winner in the Supertwin class at the Triangle, but now we will finally get to see the former MotoGP rider aboard factory-backed machinery on the big stages at the NW200 — the Superbike and Supersport classes.
It’s an unfortunate turn of events for Tandragee 100 winner Kneen, who had high hopes ahead of this year’s north coast showpiece.
Speaking of the deal, McWilliams said: “It is nice to be able to step in for Dan and help Mar-Train Racing out this week.
“I have a great relationship with team boss Tim Martin and the rest of the team and have some experience of working with them in the past.
“I’m keen to race the North West 200 with another professional outfit and my duties will be divided between SGS/KMR and Mar-Train during the week,” added McWilliams, who will still take in the Supertwin races with Ryan Farquhar’s KMR Kawasaki team.
But in a twist of fate, he will now race against Farquhar in the Superbike class, with both men on factory-backed 1000cc machinery despite having clocked up 92 years of blowing out birthday candles between them.
“I am looking forward to getting on the Yamahas to see how far they have come on over the past year,” said McWilliams who has assisted in a development role with Mar-Train Racing over the past two years.
Despite his excitement, he did have a few words for the man he will replace.
He added: “Obviously I am disappointed for Dan, but hopefully I can step in, do a job and do both him and the team justice at the North West this coming week.”
McWilliams will have a shakedown test at Kirkistown today with Mar-Train Racing before the opening Vauxhall International North West 200 practice sessions tomorrow.
North West Event Director Mervyn Whyte is obviously delighted to have a rider of McWilliams’ calibre on the grid in each class this week, but had a special word for injured Kneen, who will be so frustrated after having to pull out of the north coast showpiece.
“We are bitterly disappointed that Dan won’t be with us this year,” said Whyte.
“Dan has been a regular competitor at the North West and we would like to wish him well with his recovery from this injury and for the rest of the season.”
On McWilliams, he added: “Although the fans will be very sad to hear of Dan’s misfortune, they will now have the opportunity to see Jeremy McWilliams on the Mar-Train Yamahas.
“Jeremy’s appearances on Ryan Farquhar’s KMR/SGS Kawasakis have given him a huge following at the North West and he has the experience and knowledge to do a great job for Tim Martin’s team.”
Practice begins for the Vauxhall International North West 200 tomorrow with roads closing at 9.15am.