North West 200: Ian Hutchinson has never been in better shape
In terms of quality performers, Tyco BMW's Ian Hutchinson is the in-form rider coming into this year's Vauxhall International North West 200, and the Bingley ace will this week be looking to add to the huge tally of wins accrued by TAS Racing over the years at their home event.
Considering he has 11 career Isle of Man TT victories and is the only rider ever to have won five in a week on Mona's Isle, it would be fair to say that the little island in the Irish Sea has shown more favour to Hutchy than the North West to date.
Just a matter of weeks after that five-timer in 2010, Hutchinson suffered horrific leg injuries in a freak incident at Silverstone, which for many others would have meant the end of their career.
Hutchy admitted he did fear his riding days were over, but he doggedly overcame the threat of amputation and over 40 surgeries to get back to the very top last year with a brilliant TT hat-trick.
And with two wins around the 8.9-mile North West 200 circuit, Hutchinson has also demonstrated his prowess for victory at the Northern Ireland event.
With two British Superstock podiums and more miles than he cares to remember already under his belt on Tyco BMW machinery, he could well be the man to beat this week.
"It's fair to say I'm probably arriving here in better shape both physically and mentally than I have done before and in terms of bike time, it's been a great pre-season and opening couple of races in the British championship," said the 36-year-old, who posted a brace of third-placed finishes for his efforts at Silverstone and Oulton Park on his Superstock S1000RR BMW.
He's the current lap record holder in the Superstock class at the NW200, having posted a lap of 121.680mph last year, but firmly believes he can win the blue riband Superbike race.
"The Tyco BMW Superstock is a bike I love riding, as I've shown this year in the British championship," he said. "Most of the time I've ridden at the North West I would never have ridden my Superbike before going there. Last year I rode my bike before I went, which proved worthwhile, as I led and probably should have won.
"This year with the time I've had on the Tyco bikes I feel comfortable and I'm definitely in a good position to go ahead and win it if it's there for the taking.
"The bikes are so closely matched nowadays that it's hard to break away from the field and anything can happen on the last lap. All you can really do is plan out what you are doing yourself. You just have to hope you are in the best position possible on the last lap and take it as it comes."
Hutchinson (above and far right with Lee Johnston and Alastair Seeley at the North West 200 last year) will also be a big favourite for Supersport honours this time around, riding for Prodigy front man Keith Flint's Came-backed TTC Yamaha squad.
It's the very same team that he did the double for at last year's Isle of Man TT, so he will be worth drawing out of the trackside sweep with your mates come race day as a hatful of podiums could well result in a glut of wins for the softly spoken race ace.