Josh Brookes eyes North West 200 shock after taking over PBM Ducati race vacated by Michael Dunlop

The Aussie rider has been given an unexpected nod to race the Ducati Panigale MCE in Superbike racing after Michael Dunlop’s shock split from Paul Bird’s team.

Dunlop made the bombshell announcement last month at the official launch of the TT, and the Bird team owner turned to Brookes to fill the void.

The 39-year-old, based in Bedfordshire, last raced in the North West in 2014 when he finished second in the Superbike race behind Dunlop. Brookes also set a lap record on the Milwaukee Yamaha R1 on his final lap.

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Josh Brookes on the MCE Ducati Panigale. The Australian rider will return to the North West 200 in Superbike racing for the first time since 2014.

It was an impressive performance from the Australian, who had only made his NW200 debut a year earlier for the Tyco Suzuki team of Northern Ireland.

And despite his long absence, Brookes doesn’t think he’ll be far ahead at Saturday’s two Superbike races on the 8.9-mile ‘Triangle’ course, where Carrickfergus man Glenn Irwin is aiming a fifth consecutive victory in the blue. riband class on a Honda Racing UK Fireblade.

Three of Irwin’s four straight Superbike victories came on Ducati machines for Bird’s team in 2017 and 2018.

“I have full confidence in the bike and in the team, and even though I haven’t ridden there since 2014, remember I almost won the Superbike race and set a new lap record at the era,” Brookes said.

“So our expectations are high and I’m really looking forward to it and seeing the fans again after the past two years.

“We hadn’t originally planned to race the North West 200 under my agreement with PBM and the MCE Ducati Racing Team this year, but it was a pleasant last minute surprise when the opportunity arose. is presented.

“The question everyone asks is how competitive the Ducati MCE will be on the NW200 track and that’s a question I can’t answer until I’ve ridden it.

“But I have no reason to believe that we can’t do well, or really well in fact. The Ducati is known for being fast and even if we are a few tenths short in BSB, I don’t think that will be a problem with the very nature of the event,” he added.

“I have spent many years living in Northern Ireland so it will be good to see some familiar faces and hopefully the weather will be good and we can get all the expected track time.”

Brookes and former Superbike World Champion Tom Sykes lead the MCE Ducati team in the British Superbike Championship.

The North West will be a unique race for Brookes, with the team stressing there are no plans to contest the TT with the Australian, who last raced on the Isle of Man with Norton in 2018.

The addition of Brookes adds spice to an already stellar Superbike lineup, which also includes big names such as Peter Hickman, Dean Harrison, James Hillier, Alastair Seeley, Conor Cummins, Davey Todd, Michael Rutter, John McGuinness, Ian Hutchinson, Lee Johnston and Richard Cooper.

Roads close for the opening practice sessions on Tuesday May 10 from 9:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. as the event returns in anger for the first time since 2019.

Don’t keep turning on Tuesday (May 10) for a special eight-page NW200 preview.

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