British championship riders Tommy Bridewell and Richard Cooper are set to make their debuts on the roads at next year’s North West 200.

Both are former British Superbike race winners who are eager to follow in the footsteps of other leading names from the series who have successfully raced at the North West, such as Steve Plater, Josh Brookes, Peter Hickman and Glenn Irwin.

Bennetts Suzuki rider Cooper, who finished as the runner-up in this year’s Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship, said: “I have asked Michael [Dunlop] what it is like and having someone with his experience in the garage is a positive thing.

“I know that I can count on him to give me honest answers.”

Cooper will remain with Stuart and Steve Hicken’s Suzuki team for 2018 and would ideally like to ride a Superstock-spec GSX-R1000 alongside a Supertwin machine for his maiden outing at the North West.

“Suzuki make a twin and I’ve looked at that as an option and it’s not out of the question,” he said.

“I think it would be better to do two classes as a newcomer. I am 34 and I have done a lot of racing in different classes. I’ve ridden in one-make series and European championships as well as BSB and Superstocks. I have learned to be able to ride around problems.

“I would want to try to take in as much as possible in year one but it would be hard to say whether or not I might make the top ten or not.

“I know what I am capable of and I know who is competitive at the North West. I know who I can run with on the short circuits and I want to come to the North West and do myself justice, not just make up the numbers.”

Bridewell has been competing in the BSB championship since 2009. The 29-year-old says he has long considered making the transition to the roads.

“It has always been in my mind to have a go on the roads. I know quite a lot about the North West because I visited here in 2015 [with the Tyco BMW team] and I am friends with Martin Jessopp and Ian Hutchinson.”

Bridewell is coming off the back of a frustrating season in BSB with the WD-40 Kawasaki team and is now chasing a deal for next year that will enable him to combine his roads debut with the British championship.

“I want to integrate riding at the North West with my Superbike plans in 2018. My main focus is becoming BSB champion but I definitely want to come and race the North West,” he said.

“I wouldn’t be coming to the North West trying to win or even to make the top ten in my first year.

“I love the North West atmosphere though and I wouldn’t be worried about results as long as I was enjoying it. If you enjoy it then you can get sucked along and maybe get into a group and then you never know what will happen.”

Both riders visited Northern Ireland on Tuesday and were shown around the course by Rider Liaison Officer Steve Plater and Event Director Mervyn Whyte.


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