ROOKIE riders are traditionally warmly welcomed each year at the Relentless International North West 200 and 2011 is no exception with over 20 newcomers from both sides of the ‘pond’ confirmed for Race Day on 21st May.
Leading the pack is BSB and Macau star Simon Andrews from Evesham. Whilst Simon flew over earlier in March for the event’s BBC Northern Ireland launch, negotiations were still being finalised this week and Mervyn Whyte MBE technical director has now confirmed that Andrews will definitely be on the grid for the Eventserv Superbike Race and the McAvoy NW200 Superbike Races as well as the CP Hire Superstock class.
“Injury prevented Andrews from making his Relentless NW200 debut last year and I’m delighted that we’ve agreed terms and Simon will be riding for the Paul Shoesmith backed Ice Valley BMW team at this year’s race meeting.” said Mervyn Whyte.
“I checked out the 8.9 mile circuit with expert Phillip McCallen when I visited Northern Ireland recently and I just can’t wait to sample the atmosphere and excitement in the paddock and on the circuit.” said Andrews. “I’m been testing the Ice Valley BMW bikes at Silverstone and really enjoyed the bikes and the Dunlop tyres which I’m using for the first time on superbikes. Testing sessions have been going really well and I know I’ve a busy few months ahead of me.
“I’m currently training hard in the gym and also for the London Triathlon in July when I’m competing to raise cash for charities, Macmillan, Acorn Children’s Hospice and the Oxygen Chamber (Isle of Man). I’m doing weight training and have secured the services of a specialist to help me achieve superb fitness for both the race season and the triathlon. All this hard work will hopefully benefit me and I’m really looking forward to Brands, Oulton Park, Croft and the of course the Relentless NW200!”
“My aim is to achieve a top 15 position and simply enjoy myself as it’s my debut. Though my secret ambition is to beat my team mate and Ice Valley manager Pau Shoesmith who’s been a North West regular for several years! So roll on 21st May!”
Also joining Andrews for their NW200 debuts are Italian rider Dario Cecconi, Team of Paris competitor Timotlee Monot (24) from France and Swiss rider, Herve Gantner. 32 year old Cecconi, who is a race technical director, has competed in the Italian and French Championships and achieved top ten results, whilst 29 year old Gantner rode in the Swiss Supersport Championsship and the 2010 Isle of Man TT. Adding some Italian chic is Simona Zaccardi from Rome who has taken part in the Manx Grand Prix as well as the Italian and the European Championship. Road specialist and French Championship rider Ongaro Ornella (20) will also be on the NW grid for the first time alongside Motorcycle News roadtester Adam Child and local rider Kirk Jamieson from Greyabbey. With 48 wins under his belt and three times runner up in the Irish Supersport and Superbike Championship, Kirk has also won the Ken Redfern Trophy twice.
As reported in recent weeks Californian bike ace and Macau star Jeremy Toye from San Diego will line out on the grid at this year’s Relentless International North West 200 under the Sondel Racing Kawasaki UK banner. Toye will be joined by team mate Steve Mercer who hails from Maidstone, Kent. Mercer who last week showed off his zumba dancing skills at Portrush as part of the McAvoy and Eventserv superbikes launch, will be keen to make his presence felt at this year’s race.
All newcomers take part in a maximum of three races and require permission to race from global governing body, the Federation of International Motorcyclists.
The Relentless International North West 200 takes place on Saturday 21st May. Visit www.northwest200.org for up to date information on races, competitors, grandstands and hospitality.