The V&M Racing team starts its 2002 public roads campaign in earnest this weekend, when the opening event on the prestigious public roads circuit calendar - Ireland's International North West 200, takes place on Saturday.

With Scotsmen Jim Moodie and Iain Duffus riding the teams distinctive red-and-yellow R1 and R6 Yamahas, V&M is aiming to mount a serious challenge in both the Superbike and Supersport 600 classes, against what is one of the strongest entries the famous North West 200 event has attracted for some years.

Already in qualifying for Saturday's racing, former British champion Moodie has taken the V&M R6 Yamaha to the top of the time sheets for the Supersport 600 events, despite only managing one flying lap of the eleven-mile circuit, when a blown oil seal cut short his Tuesday evening session.

Team-mate Duffus finished sixth fastest in the same session, but managed to take his V&M R1 Yamaha onto a provisional front row spot for the Superbike events, when he claimed fourth place during the Superbike practice session.

Blustery conditions hampered Tuesday evenings practice sessions, with both riders affected by the strong side winds on many parts of the circuit. Moodie suffered more than most and was disappointed to record the ninth fastest qualifying time for the Superbike class.

"Because the bike is so powerful and light, I was having to role the throttle everywhere," he said, "The wind made things pretty difficult, but I'm confident I can go a lot quicker on Thursday night."

Team boss Jack Valentine was happy with the opening practice.

"Both rider's were happy with the bikes, and hopefully if the wind has dropped for Thursday evening's sessions we can get a true indication of what they are capable of," he said.

One information sheet that brought a smile to the V&M Team's faces on Tuesday evening was the speed trap figures. Duffus' V&M R1 topped the Superbike sheet with a top speed of 183mph, while Jim Moodie's V&M R6 Yamaha clocked an incredible 179mph to head the Supersport 600s.

 

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