The 2018 Vauxhall International North West 200 grid is filling up nicely!
Almost all of the main road racing teams have their riders in place for next season with some intriguing changes amongst the announcements and rumours.
The Cookstown Burrows Engineering team announced the latest signing today, with Davey Todd leading the Dungannon squad’s charge next year.
The 22-year-old from the North East of England will compete in all of the Irish National meetings and make his debut at the North West 200.
This news comes hard on the heels of another Dungannon team’s announcement at the weekend that ‘Mullingar Missile’, Derek McGee, is joining Ryan Farquhar’s KMR Kawasaki outfit in the Supertwins class next season. Former North West winner Ryan will provide machinery for Derek in the NW200 twins races and is also recruiting other riders for the popular races.
It has been widely reported that three times NW200 winner Ian Hutchinson has left Tyco BMW to join the Honda Racing squad. Fermanagh rider Lee Johnston, also a NW200 winner, is being tipped to join Hutchy in the team aboard the squad’s Fireblades. Honda have not confirmed that news but Tyco BMW have signed Manxman Dan Kneen to spearhead their 2018 roads campaign, including the Vauxhall International North West 200.
Whether or not the North West 200’s most successful rider, 21 times winner, Alastair Seeley will appear in the Tyco livery remains to be seen but the Carrickfergus man will not be short of offers for 2018. Like many of the biggest names in the between the hedges scene, Glenn Irwin has opted to stick with what he knows for another season. Last year’s feature Superbike race winner at Portrush will be in the PBM/Be Wiser Ducati colours once again in 2018.
James Hillier is set to line up alongside Seeley and Co on the coast road after renewing his contract with JG Speedfit Kawasaki for an 8th consecutive season. The Ringwood rider’s signature had been sought after by other teams, including Honda.
Peter Hickman will be hoping for better fortune than he enjoyed at the 2017 NW200 as he remains with the Smith’s BMW squad on a S1000RR BMW for a second season.
The world’s fastest road racer, Dean Harrison, also enters the second year of his contract with Paul Iddon’s Silicone Kawasaki squad. A winner at the Southern 100 and Ulster Grand Prix, Harrison will be hoping to build on his podium finish in the 2017 Superstock race on Thursday evening.
Conor Cummins and Bruce Anstey will remain with Clive Padgett’s family run Honda team for 2018. 31 year old Cummins and 48 year old Anstey bring a wealth of experience to the roads campaign.
William Dunlop should have the same Temple Golf Club R1 and IC Racing R6 Yamahas he raced in 2017 at his disposal this season.
William’s brother, Michael, always seems to be the last man to sign on the dotted line for the new season! The Bennett’s Suzuki rider won the Senior TT last season but struggled for pace with the new GSXR at Portrush and elsewhere. Steve Hicken will be keen to retain Dunlop’s services but rumours suggest the Ballymoney man is being chased by both Norton boss Stuart Garner and Shaun Muir as the rider for a new roads squad the Guisborough man wants to run in 2018.
Stephen Davison – NW200 PR Officer