NORTH WEST 200: Seeley heads up all-star line-up at Titanic launch event

Pictured at the launch of the 2016 Vauxhall International North West 200 at Titanic Belfast (front l-r) William Dunlop, Jeremy McWilliams and Ryan Farquhar (
back) Alastair Seeley, Peter Hickman, Conor Cummins, Dan Kneen, Michael Rutter, Lee Johnston and John McGuinness. 
Photo: Stephen Davison / Pacemaker Press
Pictured at the launch of the 2016 Vauxhall International North West 200 at Titanic Belfast (front l-r) William Dunlop, Jeremy McWilliams and Ryan Farquhar ( back) Alastair Seeley, Peter Hickman, Conor Cummins, Dan Kneen, Michael Rutter, Lee Johnston and John McGuinness. Photo: Stephen Davison / Pacemaker Press

East Antrim’s Alastair Seeley headed up a fantastic line-up of road racing talent at the 2016 Vauxhall International North West 200 ‘Meet the Riders’ event.

Fifteen-times NW 200 winner Seeley, led the cast of stars that included John McGuinness, Michael Rutter, William Dunlop, Ryan Farquhar, Conor Cummins, Dean Harrison, Lee Johnston, Dan Kneen, and Peter Hickman.

Ballyclare’s Jamie Hamilton, who finished on the podium in the 2014 Supertwins race at the North West before being seriously injured in a Senior TT crash, also made a special appearance.

Over 1,000 fans and the race sponsors heard Event Director, Mervyn Whyte, announce significant changes to the race organisation for 2016.

“I think everyone would like to see the racing getting under way faster, so we are making some changes to the grid management to speed things up,” Whyte said.

“Most importantly, we will run two groups instead of three in each race this year.”

These new measures should see Thursday evening’s three-race programme and Saturday’s five events completed in less time.

On the racing front it looks like Peter Hickman will replace Carrick’s Glenn Irwin on the Cookstown Burrows Engineering Kawasaki in the Supertwin races. Irwin has told the Times he definitely will not be riding at this year’s event.

Hickman, the JG Speedfit Kawasaki BSB star, is the fastest-ever newcomer at the North Coast event and the winner of the 2015 Macau Grand Prix, and should add extra spice to both Supertwins events.

No matter who rides the Burrows’ bike, they will face stern competition from Ryan Farquhar’s KMR Kawasaki squad. Farquhar and team-mate, Glengormley’s Jeremy McWilliams, between them won the two ‘twins races at last year’s event.

With Bruce Anstey chasing a phenomenal sixteenth consecutive season of finishing on the podium and ‘Wee Wizard’ Seeley focused on securing record a 16th win, the 2016 Vauxhall International North West promises to be a mouthwatering spectacle for road racing fans.