Didier Grams will make his North West debut this season and the extrovert German rider is sure to be a big favourite with local fans.
The German’s teammate in the Heidger squad will be a racer well known to Irish road race fans too. Belgian Marc Fissette’s name is etched on the memory of everyone who watched his titanic 250cc battle with the late Joey Dunlop at the 1997 Ulster Grand Prix.
Fissette lost out that day by just 0.03 seconds to the Ballymoney legend. Now in his 22nd year of racing the 40 year old will be hoping to have better luck at Portrush than he had in Macau in 2013 when he crashed out on the first lap after becoming entangled with Austrian racer Horst Saiger. Saiger will also be returning to the Triangle circuit in 2014.
Riding a Kawasaki Switzerland ZX10, the double Swiss Superbike champion will want to build on his impressive debut performance in 2012, when he finished 10th in the Superstock race, finishing ahead of big name NW regulars like Gary Johnson, Adrian Archibald and Ian Lougher. The Austrian, who made his TT debut last year, has been a regular podium and top five finisher at the Le Mans 24 Hour, Bol d’Or, eight hours of Oschersleben, eight hours of Qatar and eight hours of Albacete events.
German ace Rico Penskofer is no stranger to Portrush, having raced the North West 200 several times before he retired in 2012 to run his own BMW road race team. Penskofer’s Penz13.com team will introduce Canadian Dan Kruger to the high speed Triangle course in May. Kruger will be taking a break from racing in the Chinese Superbike championship to make his road racing debut alongside Simon Andrews who will be enjoying his return to racing after serious injury with the German squad at the North West.
Another big international name who may also be on his way to Northern Ireland in May is American, Jeremy Toye. A Macau Grand Prix podium finisher and former best newcomer at the TT, the Californian is in negotiation with NW organisers and a local race team to return to the North West, where he last raced in 2011.
“It is great to know that the North West has such an international appeal and this will help us to promote not just road racing but also the beautiful North Coast area all around the world,” said NW Event Director, Mervyn Whyte, MBE.
“The guys that we have coming in 2014 are top class runners who won’t just be there to make up the numbers. They will all be racing on the very best of machinery with highly professional teams and they will be chasing good results.”