Jeremy McWilliams will replace the injured Dan Kneen in the Mar-Train Yamaha team at this week’s Vauxhall International North West 200.
Manx rider Kneen has sustained a broken arm in a mountain bike training accident in a major setback for the Braddan man, who won the main Superbike race at the Tandragee 100 at the end of April.
McWilliams, who was involved in the development of the Yamaha YZF-R1 for the Saintfield team last year, will ride the R1 and R6 machines for Tim Martin’s outfit at the North West, where practice commences on Tuesday.
The 51-year-old, a double winner at the event, will also ride Ryan Farquhar’s SGS/KMR Kawasaki in both Supertwins races as scheduled.
McWilliams, who will be making his NW200 debut in the Superbike, Superstock and Supersport classes, said: “It is nice to be able to step in for Dan and help the team out this week. I have a great relationship with Tim and the team and have experience of working with them in the past.
“I’m keen to race the North West 200 with another professional outfit and my duties will be divided between SGS/KMR and Mar-Train during the week.
“I am looking forward to getting on the Yamahas to see how far they have come on over the past year.”
Team boss Martin said he was bitterly disappointed for Kneen, who has been in impressive form on the Yamaha machines so far this season.
“Obviously I am disappointed for Dan that this has happened, we have had a fantastic build up to the event and I was confident he would have been very competitive,” he said.
“Thankfully the minor surgery he had today has gone very well, he is now on the road to recovery and we are hopeful he will be fit for the TT in a few weeks time.
“At this late stage there were not many options available to us so we are very lucky that we have been able to bring in someone of Jeremy’s pedigree. He was part of our test programme at the beginning of 2015 so has some knowledge of our bikes already, with no recent testing it will be a challenge but I am sure we can put on a good show for our fans and sponsors.”
It is understood McWilliams will test the Yamahas at Kirkistown on Monday ahead of Tuesday practice.
Kneen, meanwhile, is naturally distraught at being ruled out of the first big road race of the season.
“I’m gutted for the whole team after all the work that has been put in, I’m on my bike every day and wasn’t doing anything different than usual - it was plain bad luck,” he said.
“Surgery has gone well today [Saturday] so all I can do is concentrate on getting fit and back on the bikes as soon as possible. I wish Jeremy all the best for this week, it is great that he has been able to step in for Tim, Sonya and all the sponsors.”
Practice begins for the Vauxhall International North West 200 on Tuesday with roads closing at 9.15am.