Kent’s Steve Mercer will ride a stable of TAS Racing-built Suzuki machines for Prodigy frontman Keith Flint at the Vauxhall International North West 200 in May.
Mercer will spearhead the music star’s international road racing campaign in the Team Traction Control colours in 2014, riding the ex-Guy Martin Superstock Suzuki plus GSX-R Superbike and Supersport machinery prepared by the Moneymore operation.
The 31-year-old is only making his third appearance at the North West 200 this year but Mercer has set himself a target of breaking into the top ten in every race.
“It feels like I have been building up to here and now this is a massive chance for me,” said the Maidstone racer.
“I’ve got really good bikes this year and a really experienced team behind me. I am training every night of the week to get fit for the new season.
“I still haven’t done 200mph through the speed trap so I really want to do that and I think I can be in the top ten, maybe top six, in every race but they are all really quick lads so I will have to be trying my hardest.”
Prodigy figurehead Flint may be a huge star but Mercer has seen a different side to his team boss away from the limelight.
“I went to see a Prodigy gig at the Brixton Academy and I got chatting to Keith afterwards,” he said. “When he is on stage it is surreal, he is a crazy rock star, but in the paddock Keith is a completely different person.
“He has raced himself and he knows racing. There have been times when I’ve fallen off and smashed the bike and I’ve been a bit worried about going back to the paddock but Keith always says not to worry and makes me feel comfortable.”
Race fans will have plenty of opportunities to meet the Prodigy star at the North West 200 as Flint is scheduled to take part in a variety of events during race week, including taking on a judges’ role for the annual Miss North West 200 competition and starring in the ‘Meet the Riders’ day in Coleraine.
Mercer will begin testing in Spain in March followed by race outings in the Superstock class at the opening British championship meetings at Brands Hatch and Oulton Park before the North West on May 17.
Event Director, Mervyn Whyte, MBE, added: “Steve is an experienced competitor and it will be good to have him back on the grid at the North West 200 in May.
“Steve’s team boss, Keith Flint, is passionate about his racing and we really appreciate his commitment in bringing a new team with top class machinery to our race.”