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Ellison is fired up to make his long-awaited North West bow


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Fresh faces: fonaCAB and Nicholl Oils North West 200 Event Director Mervyn Whyte with Stanleigh Murray, Clerk of the Course, Rider Liaison Officer Steve Plater and newcomers to the event Radley Hughes, Wayne Bourgeais, Barry Graham, Mike Browne, Chris Sarbora, James Ellison, Alun Brooks, David Graham, Brad Clarke and Krystian Paluch on the north coast circuit

Fresh faces: fonaCAB and Nicholl Oils North West 200 Event Director Mervyn Whyte with Stanleigh Murray, Clerk of the Course, Rider Liaison Officer Steve Plater and newcomers to the event Radley Hughes, Wayne Bourgeais, Barry Graham, Mike Browne, Chris Sarbora, James Ellison, Alun Brooks, David Graham, Brad Clarke and Krystian Paluch on the north coast circuit

Fresh faces: fonaCAB and Nicholl Oils North West 200 Event Director Mervyn Whyte with Stanleigh Murray, Clerk of the Course, Rider Liaison Officer Steve Plater and newcomers to the event Radley Hughes, Wayne Bourgeais, Barry Graham, Mike Browne, Chris Sarbora, James Ellison, Alun Brooks, David Graham, Brad Clarke and Krystian Paluch on the north coast circuit

The highest profile newcomer at this year's fonaCAB and Nicholl Oils North West 200 will be ex-MotoGP, European championship, AMA and British Superbike rider James Ellison, who has over 60 BSB podiums and a second place in the championship to his name.

He was joined yesterday by nine other newcomers ahead of their debuts on the 8.9mile course from May 10-16.

Ellison is scheduled to ride under the Powerslide Motorcycles, Stoke-on-Trent banner on Suzuki machinery prepared by OMG Racing in Superbike and Superstock classes.

"I've wanted to do the North West for years, but was not in a position to do so as I was focused on other series," explained the 29-year-old yesterday.

"I was at the event as a spectator when I was team mate to Marty Nutt in the European championship in 2001. This year I'm only committed to the World Endurance championship.

"I'm very friendly with Brad Clarke, Principal Dealer of Powerslide Motorcycles, who said he was racing at the North West this year and I said I would come and spanner for him. He said why not ride at it yourself? I thought about it, got in touch with Mervyn (Whyte) and here I am."

Ellison continued: "I've spun a few laps of the course today and, apart from an extra chicane and being a bit bumpier, it hasn't changed that much. I suppose at the end of the day it's another motorcycle track that needs treating with respect.

"It doesn't bother me that it's a road circuit with lamp posts and hedges; you still need to find your braking markers and hit your apexes.

"I'm a smooth, sensible rider and, like any other competitor, I want to do well, but don't expect to set the world on fire or step on the podium in my first year. I've talked to other riders like Peter Hickman and Richard Cooper who have raced the North West circuit and we'll see how things go come May."

Mike Browne from Cork, who rides for the Burrows Engineering/ RK Racing Suzuki team, is set to make his North West 200 debut this year.

"This is the first opportunity I have had to race at the North West as last year was my first out of the Support class," said the 30-year-old.

"When I found the track, it looks really fast. This is a whole new ball game for me and I'll be taking it step by step, with no pressure on me in my first year racing a Superstock machine."

Chris Sarbora travelled from Seattle to view the circuit for the first time. The 34-year old, who has raced the Mountain Circuit and was mechanic for Sam West at last year's Ulster Grand Prix, said: "I will be listening very carefully to Steve Plater as he accompanies us around the first laps."

Polish racer Krystian Paluch comes to the North West with European International Road Race championship experience at the likes of Horice, Frohburg, Hengelo and the Manx Grand Prix.

Lisburn's David Graham, racing for seven years, tackles the Triangle for the first time on his Patch Racing SV650cc Suzuki, aiming "to learn, not do anything stupid and qualify."

Race director Mervyn Whyte MBE said: "We have an exciting group of international newcomers competing at the North West 200 this year and the local fans will provide plenty of support for this new venture in their racing careers."

Belfast Telegraph