The countdown to the fonaCAB International North West 200 is well and truly on following the launch of the famous race at two consecutive events in Coleraine and Dublin.
The Lodge Hotel in Coleraine hosted the ever popular ‘Meet the Riders’ evening on Thursday, with over 500 fans packed into the venue to see a host of star names interviewed on stage, including Michael Dunlop, Glenn Irwin, Alastair Seeley, Lee Johnston, Maria Costello, Jeremy McWilliams, Davey Todd and newcomer Richard Cooper.
Hosted by Claire McCollum and Stephen Watson, the various sponsors of this year’s 90th anniversary North West also chatted on stage as they were joined by the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Cllr Brenda Chivers.
The big news on the evening was the unveiling of the new PBM Be Wiser Ducati V4 R that 24-time NW200 winner Alastair Seeley will race in the Superbike class in May. Team boss Paul Bird made the trip over to Northern Ireland to attend the announcement.
On Friday, the riders headed to the Carole Nash Irish Motorbike and Scooter show where they took part in the inaugural ‘North West 200 Day’ in Dublin’s RDS complex. A huge crowd was entertained throughout the day in a series of interviews and autograph/selfie sessions with many of the North West 200’s biggest names.
Four times World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea also attended the show to take part in a Q&A session and gave his take on the much-anticipated Superbike races at the North West.
“It is too close to call who will win the Superbike races at this year’s North West,” said Rea.
“I can’t wait and I am really looking forward to being there to see what happens.”
Rea will also take part in a special chat show in the paddock marquee during this year’s NW200 race week.
NW200 Event Director, Mervyn Whyte, summed up the launch events as a great success.
“We are always keen to promote the North West 200 to new audiences,” he said.
“We wanted to take the popular Meet the Stars event to the Irish motorbike show in Dublin. The response was fantastic, with thousands of visitors to the race stand and dozens of new members being recruited to the NW200 Supporter’s Club over the three-day show.
“The news of Alastair Seeley’s PBM/Be Wiser Ducati deal has really captured everyone’s imagination and there will be even more exciting announcements to come in the next few weeks.”
The fonaCAB International North West 200 in association with Nicholl Oils will take place from May 14-18.