One of the best line-ups in recent years has been secured for the 2013 Vauxhall International North West 200, which gets under way in Northern Ireland with the first practice session today.

British Superbike star Josh Brookes will make his road racing debut at the event on the Tyco Suzuki Superbike and Superstock GSX-R1000 machines, while former three-times British Supersport champion Karl Harris also takes on the challenge of the 8.9-mile public roads course for the first time.

Gearlink Kawasaki's Alastair Seeley remains the man to beat at the North West, where he won three races in 2012 to take his overall tally to eight.

Seeley will ride in both Supersport 600 races at the event for the British championship outfit and teams up with Nick Morgan's MSS Kawasaki outfit for the Superbike and Superstock classes.

The Ulsterman's big British championship rival, Stuart Easton, returns to the international road race two years after a serious accident that almost killed him when he ploughed into the rear of Gary Mason's MSS Kawasaki during practice.

Easton, who lies second in the British Supersport series behind Seeley, has been in terrific form on the Mar-Train Racing Yamaha R6 and is tipped as a major contender in the middleweight class.

The Scot also lines up in the Superbike class on a specially built Yamaha YZF-R1 and could be a dark horse after he finished as the runner-up to Seeley in the main NW200 race in 2010 on the Swan Honda.

Honda is strongly represented by 13-times NW200 winner Michael Rutter, John McGuinness and Michael Dunlop, who fly the flag for the TT Legends team.

Dunlop is having his first outing on the roads on the official Fireblade and has warmed up for his home race with four wins in the Superbike class at the Cookstown 100 and Tandragee 100 national road races.

McGuinness was a winner in the Superbike class in 2012 at the North West and holds obvious chances, while Michael Rutter is only two wins short of Ulster hero Robert Dunlop's all-time record of 15 successes on the coastal circuit that links the towns of Portrush, Coleraine and Portstewart.

Rutter is level with Joey Dunlop on nine Superbike victories as the pair share the record for the most wins in the blue riband division.
Shaun Muir's Milwaukee Yamaha roads team includes William Dunlop and Conor Cummins.

Dunlop won the first Supersport 600 race 12 months ago and finished as the runner-up in the second to Seeley.

The 27-year-old has a trick R6 at his disposal this year and is a key contender in the class.

Cummins had a year to forget in 2012 when he was rammed by Gary Johnson at Mather's chicane, suffering a wrist injury that ruled him out of the Isle of Man TT.

The Manx rider will be keen to make a strong start to the new international campaign in preparation for the TT.

Aussie Cameron Donald rides the Wilson Craig Honda machines, while Guy Martin (Tyco Suzuki) is back for another crack at the event after a huge crash last year in the opening Supersport race forced him out of the remainder of the day's action.

Bruce Anstey rides for the new-look HM Plant Honda by Padgett's Motorcycles team in the Superbike, Supersport and Superstock classes and only a fool would dismiss the Kiwi's prospects.

Anstey is joined in the famous black and orange HM Plant colours in the Superstock and Supersport classes by Morecambe man and TT legend McGuinness.

Gary Johnson runs his own Honda Superbike and Supersport machines this season and is an intriguing prospect on the MV Agusta 675 F3 in Jack Valentine's famous ValMoto team.

Riders Motorcycles BMW representative Martin Jessopp was clocked at 208mph on the fastest part of the North West 200 circuit last year lines up again on the S1000-RR, with Simon Andrews adding extra depth to a quality field on the RAF Reserves Honda Fireblade Superstock machine.

Former Grand Prix rider Jeremy McWilliams is back for more in the Supertwin class on Ryan Farquhar's KMR Kawasaki after making his roads debut at the North West a year ago, when he finished as the runner-up up.

He is joined in the class by team-mate Rutter, with James Hillier and Michael Dunlop other notable entries in the 650cc races.

Final qualifying takes place on Thursday followed by the first Supersport, Superstock and Supertwin 650 races in the evening ahead of Saturday's main five-race bill.