independent

Monday 18 March 2019

Super Cooper set to make his road race debut at North West

Sunflower Trophy winner Richard Cooper leads Michael Laverty and Danny Buchan at Bishopscourt, but he will have a different challenge at the North West 200 in May. Photo: Jack Corry
Sunflower Trophy winner Richard Cooper leads Michael Laverty and Danny Buchan at Bishopscourt, but he will have a different challenge at the North West 200 in May. Photo: Jack Corry

Jack Corry - Corry Corner

Richard Cooper made a brilliant impression on Irish race fans at the end-of-season Sunflower Trophy, taking all three Superbike race wins, and he will make his road race debut at the North West, securing the entry of the factory supported Suzuki GSXR1000RRs in the Superbike and Superstock races.

This is a major coup for the NW200 organisers as the event celebrates its 90th birthday in 2019.

Steve and Stuart Hicken's Suzuki squad fielded Michael Dunlop at the 2017 North West on a GSXR, providing Cooper with base settings for this year's challenge.

Cooper has already completed several sighting laps of the famous 8.9-mile Triangle circuit with eight-times North West winner Steve Plater.

Cooper explained, after visiting the North West 200 circuit last week: 'I have a lot of experience in bike racing, but road racing is the one big thing that I haven't done, and we are going to sort that now.'

Cooper was the winner of the final race in last year's BSB showdown at Brands Hatch and he went on to say: 'Riders say road racing is like a drug, but I won't know until I try it whether or not I will be addicted. Being safe is very important, but I am a racer and even in year one I won't be there just to ride around. I am not going to the North West 200 just to break anyone's fastest newcomer record.

'The team are right behind me and we have already spoken about who will be in our North West 200 crew. I have always been able to adapt quickly to new circuits. I believe in my own ability and I am old enough and wise enough to approach racing on the roads in the right way.'

Cooper will line up alongside NW200 regulars Glenn Irwin and Alastair Seeley in the British championship trio's only road race outing of 2019 but refuses to be drawn on his ambitions.

He said: 'I've raced and beaten those boys before, so maybe they will see me as a threat. I know how fast the Suzuki will be in a straight line through the North West speed traps.'

On paper the North West have a brilliant entry, with the likes of established riders like Michael Dunlop, Glen Irwin, Alastair Seeley, Dean Harrison and Peter Hickman.

Last year's event was memorable, and let's hopes we will have a repeat in May.

Fingal Independent

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