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Page last updated at 11:45 GMT, Monday, 11 May 2009 12:45 UK

Plater starts as NW200 favourite

Steve Plater
Steve Plater was a treble winner at last year's North West 200

Last year's hat-trick hero Steve Plater is likely to be the man to beat at the North West 200 as he is reunited with the HM Plant Honda team for the 2009 races.

The Lincolnshire rider took his first-ever North West win in the HM Plant colours in 2006 and his course record of 124.11mph, which he set that day, still stands.

Plater will again compete in the Superbike and Supersport races and will spearhead the Honda challenge, alongside multiple TT winner John McGuinness.

The organising Coleraine Club has assembled a high-quality line-up for the showpiece Superbike events, with riders from across the globe gathering on the grid on the north coast.

The Relentless TAS Suzuki team failed to register a victory last year but New Zealander Bruce Anstey and Australian Cameron Donald will be out to make amends.

Ian Hutchinson, a former Supersport 600 winner, rides for Padgett's Honda and Gary Johnson campaigns a former World Superbike machine for Uel Duncan Honda Racing.

Falkirk's Keith Amor is also Honda mounted, as is Guy Martin, who is hotly tipped for success on his Hydrex Hondas after retiring from last year's feature race while leading.

Michael Rutter, a 12-time winner, switches from Ducati to Yamaha this year, as he rides for the Rob McElnea-managed North West 200 team.

Michael Dunlop
Michael Dunlop after winning last year's 250cc race

Welshman Ian Lougher will hope to add to his eight wins as he competes for AIM Yamaha in the blue riband class and for the BlackHorse outfit in the Supersport and Superstock classes.

Ryan Farquhar, on a Kawasaki, and Adrian Archibald, on a Suzuki, head the local challenge while Manxman Conor Cummins, aboard a McAdoo Kawasaki, should also be in the mix.

A similar field of riders will contest the Supersport race, but Alastair Seeley from Carrickfergus, a double 600cc runner-up last year, enters the fray and will be a strong contender in partnership with the AIM Yamaha.

Rutter switches to the JMF Millsport team for the two 600cc races, and William and Michael Dunlop are also among the 70-strong field.

The Superstock race also boasts a class entry with Seeley, the Dunlop brothers, Farquhar and Archibald heading the Northern Ireland challenge.

They will come up against Martin, Amor, Hutchinson, Anstey, Donald, Lougher, Johnson and Cummins.

Seeley, Anstey and Donald were the top three in the Superstocks last year and all three will be on Relentless Suzukis this time.

Michael Dunlop will be hoping to emulate his emotional 250cc win last year but will face stiff competition from brother William, McGuinness and 2007 winner Christian Elkin.

The 125cc race sees William come up against Chris Palmer, Paul Robinson, Mark Lunney, Darren Burns and James Ford.

Tuesday 12 May and Thursday 14 May practice schedule:

Roads close - 5.00pm to 9.30pm

Practice order - Newcomers (Tuesday night only), 250cc and 125cc; Superbikes and Superstocks; Supersports.

Saturday 16 May race schedule:

Roads close - 10.00am to 7.00pm

Race order -
Race 1 - Greenline 250cc
Race 2 - DeWalt Superbike Race 1
Race 3 - Supersport 600cc Race 1
Race 4 - McKendry Fabrication 125cc
Race 5 - CP Hire Superstock Race
Race 6 - Blackhorse NW200 Superbike Race 2
Race 7 - Ballymoney Borough Council Supersport 600cc Race 2

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see also
Johnny still in the fast lane
09 May 09 |  Motorsport
Dunlop's son races to NW 200 win
17 May 08 |  MotoGP

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