NW200: Top Gun Dan Hegarty on ex-Cummins ’Blade

Dan Hegarty on the Honda Fireblade SP2 machine at Castle Combe.
Dan Hegarty on the Honda Fireblade SP2 machine at Castle Combe.

Leading privateer Dan Hegarty will return to the Vauxhall International North West 200 next month on Honda machinery after making his debut at the event last year.

Hegarty will ride for Top Gun Racing in 2017 on the ex-Conor Cummins Honda Racing Fireblade in the Superbike class. The 31-year-old will also have a new Fireblade SP2 for the Superstock races and a CBR600RR Honda Supersport machine.

One of the fastest newcomers around the Triangle course last May, Hegarty is confident of building on his results at the first big international roads meeting of the year from May 9-13.

Speaking at the official Honda test at Castle Combe, the Nottingham rider said: “I really enjoyed last year’s North West. The weather was great and I had a good run in the Superstock race.

“The North West is a great circuit and it requires a lot of work to gauge your braking markers from the high speeds.

“My favourite part of the circuit was the Coast Road section: coming over Black Hill and the run down into Juniper with all that heavy braking was awesome,” he added.

“I don’t set goals because that is pressure. As long as I am always going forwards on the roads then I will be happy.”

Hegarty, who is something of a Scarborough specialist, made his debut at the Macau Grand Prix last November and was also the leading privateer at the 2016 Ulster Grand Prix at Dundrod.

The English rider is building up his road racing experience and has some excellent machinery at his disposal this year, with last year’s official Honda Racing ’Blade giving him an extra 20bhp more.

“I know what riders like John McGuinness have done on the Honda and I know there is plenty more to come from me,” he said. “I will have 20bhp more than I’ve ever had before. We have the donkey now, it is up to refine everything around that.”

Hegarty has switched from the K-Tech suspension and Dunlop rubber he used on his Kawasaki Superstock machine last year to Metzeler tyres and Maxton suspension for 2017.