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NW200: Stars out in force for official launch in Belfast

McGuinness, Dunlop, Farquhar, Rutter, Seeley, Hickman and Johnston among top names in attendance for 2016 North West 200 launch night.
A host of star names attended the official launch of the 2016 Vauxhall International North West 200 on Wednesday night at Titanic Belfast, where some key changes were announced for the event in May.

The line-up included 15-times winner Alastair Seeley, who will take over from Robert Dunlop as the most successful rider ever in the history of the event with one more victory this year.

Also present were John McGuinness, Michael Rutter, William Dunlop, Ryan Farquhar, Conor Cummins, Dean Harrison, Lee Johnston, Dan Kneen, Peter Hickman and Glenn Irwin.

In front of a packed hall of 1,000 fans and race sponsors, Event Director Mervyn Whyte said he was committed to implementing changes this year to ensure the event runs more efficiently.

“I think everyone would like to see the racing getting underway faster so we are making some changes to the grid management to speed things up,” Whyte said.

“Most importantly, we will run two groups instead of three in each race this year.”

These new measures, that will see two rather than three waves of riders and machines taking part in the sighting laps and race starts, should see Thursday evening's three-race programme and Saturday's five events completed in less time.

Whyte also announced upgrades to the race communications for this year's event.

“We want to keep riders, teams and fans up to date with everything that is going on so there will be an extra big screen put in place at the start and finish area and more speakers deployed around the course for the PA system,” he explained.

“We also want to encourage everyone to bring their radios and tune into BBC Radio Ulster's brilliant live coverage on practice and race days so they will know exactly what is happening.”

Related Pictures

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Stars of the official launch of the 2016 North West 200
Alastair Seeley leads his Tyco BMW team-mate Ian Hutchinson in the Superbike race at the North West 200.
Glenn Irwin won the feature Superbike race at the North West 200.
Honda Racing riders John McGuinness and Guy Martin
Alastair Seeley on the Tyco BMW Superstock machine at the North West 200.
Glenn Irwin on the PBM Ducati at the North West 200.
Michael Rutter on the Bathams BMW at the North West 200
Alastair Seeley on the Tyco BMW at the North West 200.
Michael Dunlop on the Bennetts Suzuki at the North West 200
Alastair Seeley on the Tyco BMW at the North West 200.
Michael Rutter with Ryan Farquhar and Jeremy McWilliams at the North West 200 in 2012.
Lee Johnston has teamed up with Ryan Farquhar to race a KMR Kawasaki in the NI Air Ambulance colours at the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT.
Alastair Seeley with the Tyco BMW he will race at the North West 200.
John McGuinness on the Jackson Racing Honda.
Guy Martin, John McGuinness Honda Racing, [Credit: Honda Racing]
Michael Rutter and John McGuinness during the pre-event press conference ahead of the 50th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix.
Action from the 2016 North West 200
John McGuinness on the Winfield Paton at the Classic TT.

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