Karl Harris set to make North West 200 debut

Karl Harris (far right) with North West 200 newcomers''and Mervyn Whyte in Portstewart
Karl Harris (far right) with North West 200 newcomers''and Mervyn Whyte in Portstewart

Three-times British Supersport champion Karl Harris is among several leading newcomers set to make their debut at the Vauxhall North West 200 in May.

The 32-year-old, who gained his first taste of road racing experience at the Isle of Man TT in 2012, will ride for the British Superbike PR Kawasaki team in the Superbike and Superstock races.

Harris is also attempting to secure a Supersport ride for the international road race, which gets under way with the first practice session on Tuesday, May 14.

“I have always fancied doing the North West,” said Harris, who visited the Triangle circuit on the North Coast on Tuesday.

“I did the TT in 2012 and I loved the roads and want to do more.”

Young Yorkshire rider James Cowton will also contest the NW200 for the first time after joining Ryan Farquhar’s Vauxhall KMR Kawasaki team for the Supertwin class.

Cowton (21), who won the 400cc Newcomers race at the Manx Grand Prix last year, said: “I want to take my road racing a bit further and the North West 200 is the next step.”

Lisburn’s Gareth Keys and Sam Wilson from Cullybackey will also don the orange newcomers bibs this year, with Wilson - winner of the ‘Young Rider of the Year’ accolade at the Adelaide Irish Motorcyclist of the Year awards in January - riding a Supersport-spec Logan Yamaha in both 600cc races.

Car mechanic Keys, the nephew of Irish road racer Trevor Keys, will have a BMW Superbike for his Triangle debut.

Lincolnshire’s Ivan Lintin had a brief flirtation with the North West 200 in 2008 and although his career has since guided him in other directions, he will return in May with a McKinstry Supertwin and a Supersport machine backed by Taylor Lindsay.

The 28-year-old had an impressive TT in 2012, finishing just behind Ian Hutchinson in the first Supersport race in 10th place.

NW200 Event Director, Mervyn Whyte said: “There is a great depth to the talent in road racing at the moment and we will do everything we can to encourage local and visiting riders to come and have a safe and enjoyable debut on the North Coast.”