The Vauxhall International North West 200’s fastest ever newcomer, Peter Hickman, will be gunning for glory when he returns to the Northern Ireland course this week.
Hicky, who lives near Cadwell Park, missed the 2015 event through injury but he will make a full-on return this year with entries in the Superbike, Superstock, Supersport and Supertwin classes.
“It will be a busy week,” the 29-year-old commented as it was announced he will make his debut in the smaller Twins class on a John Burrow’s Engineering team liveried ER6 Kawasaki.
Having joined the JG Speedfit Kawasaki squad for the BSB series during the winter, Hickman will ride ZX10Rs in the stocker and Superbike races and a ZX6RR sponsored by Trooper in both 600cc races
“I should certainly have plenty of track time this year,” he said.
Hicky will be returning to the North West on the crest of a wave, having triumphed in the opening BSB round of the 2016 season at Silverstone. Victories at the Ulster and Macau Grand Prix and a 131mph lap at the TT last season mark him out as the man to watch this year, and he now wants to make his mark at Portrush.
“I missed the North West last year because of injury and in my first year I wasn’t race sharp or race ready,” he said.
“I was really rusty and still managed to finish in the top 10. Hopefully, this year I will be able to turn up race ready, sharp and really attack it. A bit like I did at the Ulster last year. It would be nice to win but it is only my second year so we will see what happens on the day.”
He also feels that the nature of the North West course suits his short circuit style and said: “Road racers have a very different style of riding and they don’t generally brake late and deep into corners.
“They tend to brake a bit earlier and run through the corners. You can’t really do that at the North West because of the chicanes. You can do it at other corners but not at the chicanes and that definitely means the short circuit experience can help you a lot.
“But it is still a circuit at the end of the day and it doesn’t mean that a road racer can’t brake late. Silverstone is completely different to Cadwell Park or Knockhill, and you have to ride differently at Silverstone than you do at Knockhill, so I adapt my style and that’s what I have to do when I go to the North West or the TT.”
Practice began on Tuesday and racing starts on Thursday evening, with the main races on Saturday. There is live streaming of all practice and races via the BBC Northern Ireland Sports website.