British Superbike frontrunner Peter Hickman will have his first roads outing of 2017 for Smiths Racing at the Vauxhall International North West 200 in May.
The Burton-on-Trent man has signed for the Gloucester-based team to contest the MCE British Superbike Championship this season plus the major international road races.
Hickman returns to BMW S1000RR machinery after competing for the GBmoto Racing Kawasaki team in 2016.
The 29-year-old has achieved each of his road racing victories with the German marque, sealing his breakthrough triumph in the second Superbike race at the Ulster Grand Prix in 2015 and following up with a stunning win at the Macau Grand Prix a few months later at his first full attempt. The English rider successfully retained his Macau title in November on the Bathams SMT BMW.
Hickman, who is also set to ride a Triumph 675 Supersport machine under the Smiths Racing banner, secured his first podium finishes at the North West 200 last May with an excellent runner-up result in the Superstock race behind Ian Hutchinson and a fine third in the Supersport race. He also finished a solid fourth in the sole Superbike race on the North Coast.
Hickman said: “I have another new challenge to look forward to again this season and I’m relishing it aboard the Smiths Racing BMW. All the dealings I’ve had with the team so far have been fantastic and they are very easy to work with.
“I know the BMW well having ridden it in the past and we’ve been promised the right support from the factory in Germany, which will make a difference. I’m really looking forward to the season in both BSB and on the roads with Smiths Racing.”
NW200 Event Director Mervyn Whyte said he was delighted Hickman and the Smiths Racing team would be back on the grid in Portrush.
“As one of the fastest men on the roads today it will be great to have Peter Hickman back at the North West 200.
“The Smiths team has a superb racing pedigree having won races on the roads and short circuits and we are delighted the team will make their 2017 road racing debut with Peter at Portrush.”
Hickman still holds the record for the fastest ever lap by a newcomer at the Isle of Man TT after clocking 129.104mph in 2014. He was plagued by a series of non-finishes at the TT last June but underlined his potential around the infamous Mountain Course with a superb fourth place in the Superbike race, lapping at 132.465mph in only his third visit to the event.
Meanwhile, a new documentary featuring Alastair Seeley’s record-breaking haul of 17 wins at the North West 200 will be released on DVD from February 1.
The 1hr 40m programme, ‘Alastair Seeley – My North West 200 Wins’, has been produced by the team behind ‘How the North West Was Won’, which was screened on the BBC. The DVD can be purchased through the North West 200 website at www.northwest200.org.
Profits from sales of the DVD will be shared between Seeley’s racing fund and Coleraine and District Motor Club.