Belfast Telegraph

Two British Superbike champions to make road debut at North West 200


By Roy Harris

Two British Superbike winners, Richard Cooper and Tommy Bridewell, are set to make their road racing debuts at the 2018 International North West 200.

Cooper, who finished runner-up in the 2017 British Superstock 1000cc championship, has a wealth of racing behind him and said he had discussed racing at the North West with his Bennetts Suzuki team mate Michael Dunlop.

"Having someone with his experience in the garage is a positive and I know I can count on him to give me honest answers," the 34-year old said.

Bridewell, who rode for the Tyco BMW squad in 2015, has been a regular in the BSB series since 2009, with the 29-year old saying: "It has always been in my mind to have a go on the roads. I know a lot about the North West because I visited here in 2015 with Hector and Philip Neill's team plus I'm friends with Martin Jessopp and Ian Hutchinson."

Wiltshire rider Bridewell has had what he describes as "a frustrating year with the WD40 Kawasaki team in BSB" and is now chasing a deal that will allow him to combine his roads debut with British championship racing in 2018.

"My main focus is on becoming BSB champion," he explained, "however I definitely want to come and race at the North West 200."

Cooper will remain with the Stuart and Steve Hicken Bennetts Suzuki team for 2018 and would like to ride a Superstock specification GSXR alongside a Supertwin machine as he learns his way around the Triangle.

Both men are realistic about results at the North West on their debut, but they have confidence in their own ability.

Bridewell said: "I wouldn't be coming to the North West trying to win or even make the top 10 in my first year. I love the North West atmosphere though and I wouldn't be worried about results as long as I was enjoying it.

"If you enjoy it you can get sucked along and maybe get into a group and then you never know what will happen."

Cooper sees his ability to adapt quickly to the variety of machinery he has raced as a major advantage.

He said: "I've ridden in one-make series and European championships as well as BSB and Superstock. I would want to try and take in as much as possible and it would be hard to say whether or not I could make the top 10."

The confident Nottingham rider continued: "I know what I am capable of, I know who is competitive at the North West and I know who I can run with on the short circuits and I just want to do myself justice, not just make up the numbers."

Eight-time North West 200 winner and rider liaison officer Steve Plater was on hand yesterday to offer guidance to the pair saying: "Tommy and Richard have lots of racing experience and have chosen the North West to make their roads debut because they like the approach and lack of pressure."

Event director Mervyn Whyte said: "It's great news to have riders of the calibre of Tommy Bridewell and Richard Cooper wanting to race at the North West. In the past, Josh Brookes, Peter Hickman and Glenn Irwin made their mark and there is no reason why Tommy and Richard cannot do likewise."

Belfast Telegraph

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