Reigning British Supersport champion Stuart Easton is the latest high profile entry for May’s International North West 200 on a Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki superbike. The diminutive Scot announced his return to the north coast event on the day of the race launch and he is set to be a top contender on the Paul Bird Motorsport built ZX10.
“The bike that I will race at the North West is the same bike that I will ride in BSB this year.” the 30 year old explained after a week in Spain, where he tested the new bike at Almeria.
“It is a great bit of kit and I feel comfortable on it. I just need to get enough practice and I will be ready to go.”
Team boss Paul Bird confirmed that the squad will build Easton a specially tuned engine designed for the 200mph straights of the 8.9 mile north coast circuit.
“Tuning an engine for the North West is a bit of a black art but I know that PBM will have it covered and that the team’s engine builder Frank Wrathall will give me a motor that will be up to the job.” Easton smiled.
“The team have won North Wests, TTs and world championship races and working with that experience makes my job so much easier. I just have to turn up and race!”
Easton is no stranger to road racing success, having won three Macau Grand Prix in recent years. His best North West result to date was a second place spot behind Alastair Seeley in the 2010 feature Superbike race. Seeley will also be mounted on a ZX 10 Kawasaki superbike in Mar-Train colours at Portstewart and the duo are destined to renew the fierce rivalry that saw Easton pip his Carrickfergus opponent to the title in the final round of the British Supersport championship in 2013. Seeley inherited Easton’s Mar-Train ride when the Scot shifted to PBM during the winter but there is unlikely to be any quarter given by either rider as Easton chases his maiden North West win and Seeley seeks his 11th victory.
Having returned to the superbike class for 2014, the Easton’s first test on the Kawasaki at Almeria with team mate Shane Byrne did not go exactly to plan after the Scot crashed heavily in windy conditions on the opening day.
“There was a lot of damage to the bike and it wasn’t the way I had planned things for the first ride on the new bike on day one but we regrouped and by the final day I was just 0.8 sec off Shakey’s best time.” he explained. But the Hawick man was undaunted by the set back and is aiming high at Portstewart in May.
“If we get the bike set up good and I can get a couple of good results in the opening BSB races I want to be challenging for a win at the North West.” Easton said.
“Stuart Easton is a class act as his British Supersport title success highlights.” Event Director, Mervyn Whyte, MBE, said.
“The North West 200 will be his only domestic International road racing appearance in 2014 and it is a big coup to have a rider of Stuart’s ability on a bike that has a BSB championship winning pedigree.”