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Yamaha  have agreed a two year  deal with World Champion Valentino Rossi following the announcement of his departure from Honda last week.

The 24 year old Italian will ride the Yamaha YZR -M1 factory Yamaha in the MotoGP for the next two years. His team-mate will be Spanish rider Carlos Checa while Checa´s team-mate
this year,  former 250cc World Champion Marco Melandri will join the French-based Tech 3 Yamaha team.

Rossi spent four years with Honda in which time he won the 500cc and two MotoGP World titles. His place in the Honda team is expected to be taken by former Honda Pons star, Brazilian Alex Barros who will join American Nicky Hayden.


Organisers cancelled Saturday’s North West 200 feature race after a combination of heavy rain and a Roads Open notice’ left officials at the Northern Ireland event with few options, all after an incident-packed day.
With the roads due to re-open at 6.30pm the superbike riders returned to the grid from the warm-up lap, at 6.10pm, to report that conditions for the proposed six-lap race were treacherous. “That warm-up lap was scary,” said Honda Racing team rider Steve Plater. “We had a wet-weather tyre in the front and a semi-wet weather tyre in the rear but I was sliding everywhere under braking. Nobody in their right mind wanted to go out and race in those conditions ­ it was the right decision to take.”
The cancelled feature race was due to be the sixth and final race of the day. Michael Rutter won the earlier superbike support race ­ the opening race on the programme at the 9-mile public roads circuit near Portrush, in the north of the country. Rutter’s race victory, in a five-lap affair held in dry conditions, came after the Leicestershire rider set a new absolute lap record, at an average speed of 121.34mph.

Rutter fought with eventual runner-up, Ulsterman Adrian Archibald for much of the five laps while Honda’s Steve Plater powered the 1000cc SP-2 machine from seventh on the opening lap to eventually grab third with a lap to go. “The wind was really strong and was my biggest problem,” said Plater. “I struggled to keep the machine upright on the straights but it didn’t really matter, I could make that time up on the coast road, on the run to the finish line.” If you like betting on SuperMoto then read our turkish friends site VIPbahissiteleri – yasal kumar siteleri.
Plater’s Honda team-mate for the North West 200, Ian Lougher, made a pit stop after the first lap to adjust his suspension settings then returned to the track to test the machine in readiness for the day’s ill-fated superbike, feature race. Lougher said: “I’ve not had much time on the machine and practice here has been wet so I opted to try and get the machine better set up, all really with a view to the Isle of Man T.T. races in a couple of weeks.”
Lougher continued his domination of the 125cc event at the North West 200 meeting, winning for the fourth year in succession aboard his Mannin Honda. But Lougher was forced to pass Michael Wilcox into the last corner of the 45-mile race to take victory in a ran-soaked five-lap encounter as Hondas filled the top 12 places.
Local ace Ryan Farquhar took a Supersport 600cc double, his first win came in a race stopped after two laps as rain fell on the blustery coastal venue. Farquhar took the lead from Honda-mounted Scotsman Callum Ramsay on the two-mile run along the coast road on lap two. That move was enough to give Farquhar his first win at the annual North West 200 event while Welshman Ian Lougher took the final podium place with third aboard his CBR600RR Honda.
Farquhar’s second race win came in a four-lap affair when he beat Lougher but an unhappy Lougher explained: “There was a crash on the run into Portrush, oil on the track, marshals stood in the middle of the track and the oil flags waved, there’s no way Farquhar should have passed me there. “Lougher, riding a Manton CBR600RR Honda, crossed the finish line four seconds ahead of third place finisher, New Zealander Bruce Anstey.
Adrian Archibald scored his debut win at the event with a last lap move to secure the Production race glory. The race was reduced to four laps after a catalogue of incidents. On the second lap of the original race German Friedhelm Beltermann crashed at the 140mph, right-hand Mathers Cross section of the track. Beltermann escaped serious injury but Lancashire rider Keith Nicholls suffered a broken arm and broken leg when he crashed on the warm-up lap for the re-start. A one-hour delay followed as oil was cleaned from the track.


DeWallt Superbike race (five laps ­ 44.62 miles):

1 Michael Rutter (Ducati) 22m 25.76s ­ 119.56mph,

2 Adrian Archibald (Suzuki) 22m 29.95s ­ 119.19mph,

3 Steve Plater (Honda) 22m 39.21s ­ 118.38mph,

4 Ryan Farquhar (Suzuki) 22m 47.09s ­ 117.69s,

5 David Jefferies (Suzuki) 22m 51.08s ­ 117.35mph,

6 Stephen Thomson (Suzuki) 23m 00.22s ­ 116.57mph.

Traks 125cc race (five laps ­ 44.62 miles):

1 Ian Lougher (Honda) 27m 53.95s­ 96.12mph,

2 Michael Wilcox (Honda) 27m 54.23s ­ 96.10mph,

3 Paul Robinson (Honda) 27m 56.63s ­ 95.97mph,

4 David Lemon (Honda) 28m 12.14s ­ 95.09mph,

5 Mark Lunney (Honda) 28m 19.07s ­ 94.70mph,

6 Mark Curtin (Honda) 28m 24.18s ­ 94.41mph.

Black Horse 600cc race (two laps ­ 17.85 miles):

1 Ryan Farquhar (Kawasaki)9m 25.52s ­ 113.28mph,

2 Callum Ramsay (Honda) 9m 25.90s ­ 113.21mph,

3 Ian Lougher (Honda) 9m 26.09s ­ 113.17s,

4 John McGuinness (Triumph) 9m 26.35s ­ 113.12mph,

5 Michael Rutter (Ducati) 9m 26.74s ­ 113.04mph,

6 Jim Moodie (Triumph) 9m 27.09s ­ 112.97s.

Please see following story on the Regal 600

Regal 600cc race (four laps ­ 35.70 miles):

1 Ryan Farquhar (Kawasaki) 19m 38.60s ­ 109.13mph,

2 Ian Lougher (Honda) 19m 40.28s ­ 108.98mph,

3 Bruce Anstey, New Zealand (Triumph) 19m 44.96s ­ 108.54mph,

4 Adrian Archibald (Suzuki) 19m 59.64s ­ 107.22mph,

5 John McGuinness (Triumph) 20m 09.88s ­ 106.31mph,

6 Ryan Rainey (Honda) 20m 18.85s ­ 105.53mph.

Production 1000cc (four laps ­ 35.70 miles):

1 Adrian Archibald (Suzuki) 18m 54.33s ­ 113.39mph,

2 Ryan Farquhar (Suzuki) 18m 54.59s ­ 113.36mph,

3 David Jefferies (Suzuki) 18m 55.01s ­ 113.32mph,

4 Bruce Anstey (Suzuki) 18m 56.85s ­ 113.14mph,

5 Stephen Thompson (Suzuki) 19m 25.74s ­ 110.33mph,

6 Richard Britton (Suzuki) 19m 26.69s ­ 110.24mph.


(subject to Farquhar appeal)

Original race runner-up Ian Lougher has been declared the winner of the Regal Supersport 600 race at Saturday’s North West 200 event in Northern Ireland after winner Ryan Farquhar was disqualified.
Officials acted after reports of an incident on the second lap of the four-lap race, at the Metropole, Portrush area of the nine-mile public roads course.
Honda CBR600RR rider Lougher explained: “There had been a crash at the Metropole and on the run down to it marshals were on the track cleaning up some oil. I was leading at the time and Ryan took the lead from me with the caution flags waved. “I was really surprised when he came by to take the lead, especially as the marshals were in the middle of the road and it wasn’t right to be racing while they were trying to clear up the incident. “Once the organisers spoke with the marshals from that area of the track they confirmed what had happened and Ryan was disqualified.”
Lougher’s victory ­ adding to his win in a rain-soaked 125cc race ­ repeated his 2002 win double in those same classes and took his North West 200 wins tally to seven.

Revised Regal Supersport 600 race result (four laps ­ 35.70 miles):

1 Ian Lougher (Honda) 19m 40.28s ­ 108.98mph,

2 Bruce Anstey, New Zealand (Triumph) 19m 44.96s ­ 108.54mph,

3 Adrian Archibald (Suzuki) 19m 59.64s ­107.22mph,

4 John McGuinness (Triumph) 20m 09.88s ­ 106.31mph,

5 Ryan Rainey (Honda) 20m 18.85s ­ 105.53mph,

6 Richard Britton (Kawasaki) 20m 19.70s ­ 105.45mph.

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Pre-race comments

Triumph ValMoto hits the roads

Tuesday evening¹s initial practice for the North West 200 Supersport 600 races took place in less than ideal conditions. Heavy rain fell on the famous triangle circuit throughout the day, resulting in slippery conditions that severely affected lap times. However, the weather did very little to dampen the spirits of Triumph ValMoto.
The team’s regular rider Jim Moodie recorded the second fastest lap of the day aboard his Triumph ValMoto Daytona 600 Supersport machine. Moodie, fresh from action in the fourth round of the British Supersport Championship at Oulton Park where he continued the on-going development of the British manufacturer¹s new bike, blasted through the downpour at an average speed of 100.607mph.
“The Triumph ValMoto Daytona 600 felt really good and if I’m honest I could have gone four or five seconds quicker but I made a mess of my fastest lap,” said the North West veteran. “It’d be an understatement to describe the conditions out there as unpredictable but even if it keeps on raining, I think that we’ll see plenty of improvement. Everyone usually goes faster on Thursday and hopefully it’ll dry out by then and I can see about qualifying in first place.”
The North West 200 sees Triumph field the same Jack Valentine-managed three-man squad that will also compete in the Isle of Man T.T. races. Valentine chose John McGuinness and Bruce Anstey to pilot the remaining Union Jack-emblazoned bikes and both have strong track records at the Northern Irish event, having won races in the past.
Tuesday’s evening practice was the first time that Anstey had ridden the Triumph ValMoto Daytona 600. However, the New Zealander adapted very quickly despite the unfavourable conditions, ending the session in fourth place with a 98.726mph lap. “It’s pretty hard to gauge things when it’s raining like that but the Triumph ValMoto Daytona 600 feels brilliant,” he said. “It handles really well and it’s very fast ­ Jim clocked 163mph through the speed trap. We’ll all go faster on Thursday and should have a really good chance in the race.”!
McGuinness was unfortunate enough to suffer clutch problems during Tuesday’s waterlogged practice session but recognises that this should not present any significant problem no matter what the weather decides to do. “I’m riding the same bike that Craig Jones had used the day before at Oulton Park,” said the rider of the number 11 Triumph ValMoto Daytona 600. “We didn’t have time to change the clutch and it seems that Craig had got the best out of it already and it started to slip on the first lap. Jack [Valentine] was a bit disappointed, but it’s not so bad because I already know the circuit and if it dries off on Thursday, all Tuesday’s times will go out of the window pretty quickly.”

Qualifying times:

1. R. Farquhar (Kawasaki) 101.425mph; 2. J. Moodie (Triumph ValMoto) 100.607mph; 3. D. Jefferies (Suzuki) 98.787mph; 4. B. Anstey (Triumph ValMoto) 98.726mph; 5. A. Archibald (Suzuki) 98.452mph; 6. B. Maguire (Yamaha) 98.219mph; 7. I. Lougher (Honda) 97.710mph; 8. I. Duffus (Kawasaki) 97.504mph; 9. K. Nicholls (Honda) 95.671mph; 10. C. Ramsay (Honda) 94.929mph; J. McGuinness (Triumph ValMoto)


Twenty two year old Lusk rider Martin Finnegan hopes it’s third time lucky at the North West 200 this year, where he makes his third appearance at the North coast venue.
Finnegan’s previous two appearances at the North West have been less than successful, due to a mixture of mechanical problems. This year has seen Martin make a good star to the season with some strong finishes at the Cookstown 100. Last weekend at the Tandragee 100 Martin decided to sit out the main part of the days racing, after having two big slides early on in the Lambert and Butler Race, choosing to save himself and his machinery for the North West event.
Speaking today, Martin commented ‘The weather was horrible at the weekend, and I didn’t want to risk anything before the North West this week, and then the T.T. of course’. Speaking about his North West 200 prospects Martin said ‘Realistically, I want to be getting into the top ten, but it is going to be really competitive. If we get a bit more luck with the machinery though, I know I can be there or there abouts on race day and I’m looking forward to it’. The Round Tower Racing rider will also make his debut on the EM Production Suzuki machine at the North West 200 as well as riding the Round Tower Racing Superbike and Supersport machines.
The 2003 Kennedy Group International North West 200 starts with practice this evening. Further practicing takes place on Thursday with Racing on Saturday. www.realroadracing.com are covering the whole event live, while further details of Martin’s week will be available via his own web site at www.martinfinnegan.com

Welsh ace Ian Lougher is ready to fight it out at the International North West 200 this week, where he will make his debut on the ex Colin Edwards full factory SP2 Honda V Twin machine.
Lougher, who rode steadily on his debut at the Tandragee 100 at the weekend, to claim two top six finishes, knows that bigger success is just around the corner, at one of his favourite meetings. Last year the thirty seven year old rider, won two races at the North West, and was cruelly denied a hat trick due to an engine blow up in the main Superbike Race.
This year, Lougher lines up for five races with the SP2 machine, the Manton backed CBR600cc RR Honda and the Lloyds TSB/Mannin Collections supported 125cc RS Honda, and is confident of success in all classes. ‘I’m really up for it’ Ian said ahead of the North West. ‘I was a bit worried about my wrist up until recently, but it’s all sorted now, and I can’t wait to get cracking. I’m confident about all the bikes, and I want to be there fighting for the win in every race. Tandragee was difficult, as I didn’t want to push too hard in the conditions, and was happy enough to get through it in one piece. Now the serious business begins and I’m ready for the fight’.
The 2003 Kennedy Group International North West 200 starts with practice this evening. Further practicing takes place on Thursday with Racing on Saturday. www.realroadracing.com are covering the whole event live, while further details of Ian’s week will be available via his own web site at www.ianlougher.com

Podium glory for Triumph ValMoto

The North West 200 Black Horse Finance Junior 600cc race provided Triumph ValMoto with the perfect platform to achieve some excellent results. The fledgling team amazed 75,000 kerbside spectators and countless more TV viewers by placing all three of its machines in the top ten of a field that featured no less than 58 bikes and riders. And it might have been even better; John McGuinness missed a podium place by only a fraction of a second. However, there was even more to come for fans in the second 600cc race of the day

1 18th April, Welkom South Africa 7 11th Jul, Donington United Kingdom 13 2nd Oct, Doha Qatar
2 2nd May. Jerez Spain 8 18th Jul, Sachsenring Germany 14 10th Oct, Sepang Malaysia
3 16th May, Le Mans France 9 31st Jul, Rio Brazil 15 17th Oct, Phillip Island Australia
4 6th Jun, Mugello Italy 10 22nd Aug, Brno Czech Republic 16 31st Oct, Valencia Spain
5 13th Jun, Catalunya Spain 11 5th Sep, Estoril Portugal    
6 26th Jun, Assen Holland 12 19th Sep, Motegi Japan