NW200: Philip Neill talks up importance of race after Guy Martin rant

Tyco BMW team principal Philip Neill with Guy Martin
Tyco BMW team principal Philip Neill with Guy Martin
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Tyco BMW team principal Philip Neill has reiterated the importance of the Vauxhall International North West 200 to the Northern Ireland team after Guy Martin was heavily critical of the 8.9-mile circuit on Thursday.

Grimsby rider Martin – who has yet to win at the event – said he was ‘sick to the back teeth’ of riding through chicanes and claimed the growing number of short circuit stars enjoying success at the meeting couldn’t be classed as road racers.

His team-mate, Alastair Seeley, falls into that bracket as a leading light from the British championship who has proved his class time and again at the North West, where a double on Saturday would put the Carrick rider level with roads legend Robert Dunlop’s benchmark of 15 victories.

The Grimsby TV celebrity’s controversial outburst may well have confirmed that Martin is making his final appearance at Ireland’s biggest outdoor sporting event, but all the attention on Saturday will be on Seeley, who poses a major threat to Dunlop’s record.

Following his Supersport success on Thursday night – a victory that put the 35-year-old level with Joey Dunlop and Michael Rutter on the all-time roll of honour – Neill talked up the significance of the international meeting to his team.

“It’s always great to win here at the North West 200, which is a big favourite on the calendar with TAS Racing,” he said.

“Our main focus this week is with the BMW Motorrad project on the Tyco BMW machinery, but wins don’t come easy around here so we are obviously delighted to be back on the top step so soon.”

Roads close at 9.30am sharp for a revised six-race programme, which includes Thursday evening’s postponed Superstock race.