North West 200: Bruce Anstey focused on return to top spot
Flying Kiwi Bruce Anstey will be a man on a mission at this year's Vauxhall International North West 200.
The veteran racer, who will celebrate his 44th birthday in August, has achieved the incredible record of having finished on the podium of every North West, TT and Ulster Grand Prix for the last 11 seasons. And he intends to make it 12 in 2014.
"I definitely want to keep that record going," Anstey said as he unveiled the new Valvoline liveried Padgett's Honda that he will campaign at Portrush in May.
"I was on the podium twice last season and I want to be back up there again this year."
The Windsor-based rider was runner up twice in 2013, pushing Alastair Seeley all the way in Thursday night's Superstock event before surviving the monsoon to finish behind Michael Dunlop in Saturday's Supersport race.
Anstey will start in six races in 2014 in the Supersport, Superstock and Superbike classes. He will be joined on the Valvoline Padgett's bikes by John McGuinness in the Supersport and Superstock races, with the Morecambe rider riding for the factory Honda team in the Superbike races.
The North West 200 will always have a special place in Anstey's heart as he won there on his debut in 2002.
"From day one, I liked the place." he smiles, as he recalled winning the Production race 12 years ago after a hard fought battle with the late, great David Jefferies. The Kiwi hasn't won a race on the Triangle course since he scored a hat-trick of wins on the Relentless Suzukis in 2007 but he is confident that 2014 will see a change in his fortunes.
"I feel really fit at the moment and have good bikes in every class so I have a good chance in every race." he says confidently.
"The weather has made things difficult at the North West in the past couple of years but on a good day there is a great atmosphere and good racing. We just need some sunshine this year and there will be good close racing in every class."
Although delighted to have a new title sponsor in the shape of the oil giant Valvoline, Anstey admits his Padgett's Hondas won't have any advantage over the opposition.
"The Honda won't be the fastest bike out there and that makes it harder to win races at the North West." he says.
"Seeley will be hard to beat on the Mar-Train bikes this year but there are loads of others who are capable of winning. I think we'll be in there at the finish though."