Top-flight British Supersport team Mar-Train Racing will branch out to contest the international road races next year.
The Lisburn-based outfit has been a big supporter of the North West 200 in the past, but in 2014 team boss Tim Martin intends to spread his wings by competing at the TT and Ulster GP.
Scotsman Stuart Easton currently leads the British Supersport series on the blue and white-liveried Mar-Train Yamaha R6 ahead of the final round at Brands Hatch next weekend.
The Northern Ireland team is closing in on the title they agonisingly lost in dramatic circumstances in 2012, when Dublin’s Jack Kennedy was cruelly ruled out of race two after suffering his only technical DNF of the championship.
Hawick man Easton has already confirmed his plans for next season, when he will join Paul Bird’s Kawasaki team as the 30-year-old returns to the British Superbike class.
Ironically, Easton’s big rival this year - Gearlink Kawasaki’s Alastair Seeley - is in pole position to take over the ride at Mar-Train as the team prepares for only its third season in the British Supersport paddock.
Martin, though, is also preparing to tackle the roads in earnest and is in the late stages of negotiations with a rider to head up the international road racing project.
He told the News Letter he has been in contact with a number of top road racers over a potential deal, including William Dunlop - although it is understood the Ballymoney star is pursuing an alternative avenue for 2014.
Hot prospect Dean Harrison, meanwhile, told the News Letter he, too, has spoken to Mar-Train about riding the Yamaha R6 next year.
Harrison will continue to compete on the RC Express Racing Kawasaki ZX-10R in the Superbike and Superstock classes, but refused to rule out the prospect of joining Mar-Train for the Supersport races.
On his decision to increase his involvement in road racing next year, Martin said: “We are looking at doing the international road races next year – the North West 200, Isle of Man TT and Ulster Grand Prix.
“We’ll look more at that once the season is over and we’ve one rider who we’ve just about sorted out a deal with, so hopefully at Brands Hatch that will be completed.
“Being from Northern Ireland, international road racing is the way to take our team to a bigger level. We’ll maybe try and get a sponsor involved for the roads as well,” he added.
“The amount of interest from sponsors wanting their name on the bike at the North West 200 is unbelievable. The British Supersport championship is the best domestic series in the world, but Northern Ireland still has road racing at its heart.
“People know us from the short circuits and the North West, so I don’t think we’re going to get riders in the mould of John McGuinness or Michael Dunlop to ride for us because they probably wouldn’t have faith in what we’re trying to do until we prove ourselves on the roads,” said Martin.
“So what we’re looking at is signing a rider who has the potential to reach that level and we’re hopeful that we have that person lined up.”