Top road racer Peter Hickman has welcomed a new look North West 200 schedule for 2020 with the addition of his specialist Superbike race to the Thursday programme.
Reacting to requests from race teams and competitors, the North West 200 organisers have rejigged the Thursday schedule to include a Superbike race for the first time.
Practice will take place as per normal, with four sessions on Thursday morning after roads are closed at 9.15am. The Supertwins race, normally run on Thursday evening, will now take place after practice in the afternoon before the roads re-open.
Roads close again at 5pm, with the new Superbike race kicking off the action followed by Superstock and Supersport events. All of the Thursday races will be run over four laps before the roads re-open at 9.00pm.
Tuesday’s practice schedules and Saturday’s race programme remain unchanged with five practice sessions on Tuesday and five races on Saturday.
Lincolnshire based Hickman, officially the world’s fastest road racer, is a regular North West competitor, with two wins over the last two years, and he responded positively, saying: “My thoughts are quite simple on this really, the more races the better. They are basically doing what the Ulster Grand Prix did last year by adding the Superbike race on the Thursday.
“I think it’s great for us riders, great for the fans and I think overall it’s a really good thing, so it should be a good week and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Hickman set a new outright lap record of 136.415mph on his way to victory in the Superbike race at last year’s Ulster Grand Prix as he and the event reclaimed their ‘world’s fastest’ titles.
At this year’s North West, he will ride BMWs in the Superbike and Superstock classes, plus a Norton Superlight Supertwin for Smiths Racing and a Yamaha in the Supersport.
Race director Mervyn Whyte explained the changes, saying: “We have listened very carefully to the teams and riders who have lobbied for a Superbike race on Thursday.
“This new schedule will allow the Superbikes to compete in a sprint type race ahead of Saturday’s two longer events, providing more track time and a greater spectacle for everyone involved.
“From a spectator point of view it will be exciting to see every class and all of the top riders in action on Thursday.”
A comprehensive contingency plan will also be put in place should it be required. This will include the possible use of Saturday’s extension to the road closing order.
The new schedule for the 2020 fonaCAB & Nicholl Oils North West 200 is:
Four practice sessions for Supertwin, Superbike, Superstock and Supersport machines followed by Supertwin Race 1.
Roads close again at 5pm until 9pm. Superbike, Superstock and Supersport races.
All four Thursday races will be over four laps.