Keith Amor is quietly optimistic he will rise to challenge the frontrunners on his first return to the Vauxhall International North West 200 since 2010.
On his previous appearance, the Scottish rider - who quit due to a shoulder injury at the end of 2011 - won the Superstock race and set a lap record for the Supersport class.
Amor will ride for old rival Ryan Farquhar in the Supertwin races on the SGS/KMR Kawasaki and has also acquired the ex-Cameron Donald CBR6000RR Honda for the Supersport class this season, which will run in the livery of new sponsor Rip Deluge.
“The last time I was at Portrush in 2010 I won the Superstock race and set a 600cc lap record that still stands today,” Amor said. “I was at the sharp end then and although it might be a bit of a big ask to get back there after four years away I think I can still mix it up with the boys at the front.
“It will be funny racing for Ryan’s team as we used to be the biggest rivals on the track,” added the 42-year-old. “I can’t wait and as long as I finish ahead of Jeremy [McWilliams] and Ryan I will be happy!
“The 600 is a special wee bike; I can’t wait to get to the North West on it.”
Amor is confident his shoulder injury has finally healed and hasn’t experienced any discomfort during his time riding off-road bikes over the past few years.
“The shoulder seems to be alright and it isn’t giving me any grief,” he said. “I have been living in Cyprus for the last few years and keeping bike fit on off-road bikes and all seems to be OK.”
He made his return to racing at the Irish Superbike round at Bishopscourt in March where he swapped the sunshine of the Mediterranean for a typically wet Co. Down day.
“I haven’t seen rain for three years,” he said. “It was a bit of a wake-up call. I wasn’t sure if I would remember how to ride, especially as it was the first time that I have ever sat on a Supertwin, never mind race one.”
However, he showed he had lost none of his old spark with two rostrum finishes in the Supertwins races behind Jeremy McWilliams and was also in the frame in the Supersport race until he rain out of fuel.
“As long as I come back with a smile on my face I will be happy,” Amor says, looking ahead to the North West on May 17.
“But then again, the only way I will have a smile on my face is if I’m mixing it with the boys at the front.”