The fastest man ever at the Vauxhall International North West 200, Martin Jessopp, will be back at Portrush on May 17 and he aims to be going faster than ever on new BMW’s that will be bristling with MotoGP-spec technology.
Jessopp blasted through the speed trap of the 8.9 mile North coast circuit in 2012 at a mind boggling 208mph on a Ducati.
His MotorcycleRiders.com squad switched to BMW machinery in 2013 and the Yeovil man will arrive at this year’s North West 200 practice on a heavily modified superbike spec S1000RR HP4 that has been specially designed for road racing. The 28 year old will also have another more sedate HP4 for the Superstock races on Thursday and Saturday.
“We have done an awful lot of development work on the BMWs since last year and we have built different bikes for the roads and BSB for this season.” Martin’s father, Phil, who runs the Motorcycle Riders.com team explained.
“We have used MotoGP technology in the back end of the new HP4 to develop a new swinging arm and we have also designed new yokes and forks for the front end to help make the bike more stable. The engine will have more power as well as a new BMW factory electronics system.”
The machine improvements are welcome news for his son, Martin.
“We struggled a bit in BSB with the new bike last year so we went away and looked at it over the winter.” Martin said as he returned from winter training in Spain at the weekend.
“You need a really fast and stable bike for road circuits like the North West. We know the engine is fast because we were the fastest through the speed trap at Macau last year so most of the development has focussed on the chassis and we will have a bike that is designed to perform better on the roads.”
2014 will also see the 28 year old extending his road racing outings to take in the Isle of Man TT as well as his regular appearances at the North West 200 and the Macau Grand Prix.
But it is the North West that remains at the top of his priorities.
“I will be going to the TT to learn my way around this year but I am coming to the North West to target podiums and race wins.” Jessop explained.
“Years ago people used to talk about racing at the North West to get the bike set up for the TT but the North West is a huge event that stands on its own nowadays and I am really looking forward to getting back there.”
Jessopp’s 2013 North West practice was hampered when he blew an engine on his BMW Superbike on his first flying lap on Tuesday afternoon.
“I was right in front of Michael Dunlop when it let go and he got sprayed with oil.” Martin recalls.
“Then it rained for the Thursday session so to be honest I didn’t really get to see how the BMWs would have performed there last year.”
The Yeovil man’s last road race outing was at the Macau Grand Prix in China in November 2013, where he finished 7th. Jessopp says he wants to do more road racing.
“I always want to do something new, to bring some more excitement to my racing.” Martin explained.
“In 2012 I did the World Supersport series because I wanted to have a new challenge after racing on the same British circuits week in, week out for ten years. I only really started road racing because I was Stuart Easton’s teammate and he was going to the North West so I thought I would pop over and have a look. But now I am looking for some good results on the roads.”
Event director, Mervyn Whyte, MBE, thinks this could be Martin Jessopp’s year at the North West.
“Martin, his father Phil and their MotorcycleRiders.com team are a really professional squad and by building a ‘roads special’ BMW superbike they are making it very clear that they mean business on the North coast come May.”