Belfast Telegraph

Top Gun ace Dan Hegarty can't wait to fly at the NW200

 

By Paul Lindsay

A first taste of the Vauxhall International North West 200 last year was obviously enough to whet the appetite of Nottinghamshire ace Dan Hegarty, who will return to the Triangle with his Top Gun Racing team next month.

Now 31-years-old, Hegarty has been furnished with a full stable of machinery for the May showpiece in all the major classes - Superbike, Superstock and Supersport - with the pick of the hardware being an all-singing, all-dancing Honda Fireblade Superbike, previously ridden by Manxman Conor Cummins.

Speaking of his experience as a rookie in 2016 and his upcoming return to Ireland's largest outdoor sporting event on the picturesque north coast of Northern Ireland, the Top Gun pilot said: "I really enjoyed last year's North West.

"The weather was just great and I had quite a good run out in the Superstock race."

Regarded as an Oliver's Mount, Scarborough specialist, Hegarty is also being lauded as one of the top breakthrough international road racers, having secured the top privateer title at last year's Isle of Man TT and - closer to home - at Dundrod, during last August's Ulster Grand Prix.

Speaking of his return to the north coast and the famous 8.9-miles of ultra-fast racing on the famous Triangle circuit, he explained: "The North West is a great circuit and it requires a lot of work to gauge your braking markers from the high speeds.

"My favourite part of the circuit last year was the Coast Road section; coming over Black Hill and the run down into Juniper with all that heavy braking was awesome."

And of his Honda Superbike, he said: "I know what riders like John McGuinness have done on the Honda and I know there is plenty more to come from me.

"I will have 20bhp more than I've ever had before. We have the donkey (the tuned 1000cc Honda motor bolted into his Superbike) now. Now it is up to me to refine everything around that."

Hegarty's other big change in terms of set-up has seen him switch from K-Tech suspension and Dunlop tyres - which he used on his Kawasaki last year - to Metzeler tyres and Maxton suspension for the 2017 season.

Not one for making predictions, he wouldn't be drawn on setting any lofty targets.

He concluded: "I don't set goals for myself because that adds pressure.

"As long as I am always going forward on the roads then I will be happy."

It's been a great week of breaking news for the Vauxhall International North West 200, with Event Director Mervyn Whyte and his team having secured the services of PBM's factory Ducati British Superbike squad for the event which gets under way on Tuesday, May 9 with the opening practice sessions followed by racing on May 11 and 13.

The icing on the cake for both organisers and fans alike would be news of a ride at the event for former lap record holder and 2015 BSB champion Josh Brookes.

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