Team Renegade Ducati has confirmed that Michael Rutter will contest this year's North West 200 in Northern Ireland to defend his title as 'king of the road'.

Rutter will return to the North West as the undisputed champion, after winning the three main feature races and dominating the event last time out.

The 28-year old rider, who counts the North West 200 circuit as one of his all time favourites, will compete in both Superbike races aboard the same Team Renegade Ducati 998 Testastretta that he currently campaigns in the British Superbike Championship.

"Everyone knows how much I love the North West," Rutter said, "and it's great to be going there with Team Renegade Ducati. We've got a brilliant package here, which puts us in a very strong position for the two Superbike races. I've always hoped we could work something out in terms of competing at the North West this year and, thankfully, its all come together. There won't be a better bike on the grid, but there's a lot of hard work to do between now and then if we're going to get it right. The way my season's gone so far, though, I'm confident we will!"

Due to the clash between the Isle of Man TT and rounds nine and ten of the BSB at Snetterton, the North West 200 will be the only real roads event that Rutter, son of former world champion and TT winner Tony, competes at this season.

"Obviously, it would have been great to go to the Isle of Man TT races as well," he continued, "but, unfortunately, there's a date clash with both British Superbikes and the Silverstone World Superbike round. I've got a really strong chance of winning the BSB title and there's just no way we could afford to miss a round of the series."

The North West 200, the most prestigious event on the Irish road-racing calendar, was last held two years ago; the 2001 race was cancelled due to the UK-wide foot-and-mouth restrictions.