2020 Road Racing Rumours : Road Racing Pre-Season Rumour Mill : Part 2 :

2020 Road Racing Rumours
2020 Road Racing Rumours

As the season approaches the 2020 road racing rumours and breaking news starts coming in thick and fast and since January a lot has happened!

To catch up on what has happened since the end of 2019 Season make sure to check out this post : https://tbni.blog/2020/01/01/2020-road-racing-pre-season-rumour-mill/

So since New Year’s Day has much happened? Certainly!

Peter Hickman Switches to Yamaha :

2020 Road Racing Rumours : Peter Hickman will ride a Yamaha Supersport Machine from 2020
2020 Road Racing Rumours : Peter Hickman will ride a Yamaha Supersport Machine from 2020

Not on the big bikes, but Peter Hickman and Smith’s Racing will shift from Triumph to Yamaha in the Supersports class. Hicky will still be on a BMW on the supersport and superbike classes, and a Norton (which thankfully they already have) for the superlight supertwin class.

The team have cited a lack of parts and the difficulty in getting parts for the Triumph as the reason for the change.

“The R6 (Yamaha) is a much more up-to-date machine, as well as being a consistent race winner in both the British Supersport championship and international road races.”

Smith’s Racing

Smith’s Racing will be the Official BWM outfit for 2020 taking over from Tyco Racing, and Peter Hickman will be on the BMW machines for the BSB Series.

“We’ve made the decision to change from the Triumph to the Yamaha in the Supersport class for the international road races which will obviously be a bit different to the last three years,” explained Hickman.

“We’ve had an awesome time with the Triumph and it’s been absolutely brilliant with the win at last year’s TT and all three victories at the Ulster Grand Prix being phenomenal. 

“The little Daytona has done a fantastic job but, unfortunately, it’s a little bit long in the tooth now so to try and move with the times and keep up with what everyone else is doing we’ve decided to move over to the Yamaha. 

“I’ve never actually raced an R6 before so I’m really looking forward to jumping on it to see what we can do”

Peter Hickman

John McGuinness Signs for Bournemouth Kawasaki : (10/01/2020)

2020 Road Racing Rumours : John McGuinness Signs for Bournemouth Kawasaki :
2020 Road Racing Rumours : John McGuinness Signs for Bournemouth Kawasaki :

John McGuinness will contest the 2020 Isle of Man TT and International North West 200 road races for 2018 British Superbike Championship-winning team, Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki

McGuinness, who celebrates his 30th year of racing in 2020, will ride Ninja ZX-10RR machinery in the Superbike and Superstock classes at both events.

Boasting an unmatched 47 podiums and a total number of 23 wins at the Isle of the Man TT, McGuinness will undoubtedly head into each competition this year amongst the favourites for race honours.

His form in Northern Ireland is also to be admired with six wins and 21 podiums, a track record that inspires both McGuinness and Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki to focus on getting back onto the podium at the TT and NW200.

It will be the first time McGuinness has ridden a Kawasaki at either event however the now 47-year old has previous experience on a green machine having taken a close second place on a Hawk Racing Kawasaki in the 2004 Ulster Grand Prix Superbike race.

McGuinness will team-mate record wins holder Alastair Seeley at the team for the NW200 and will be the team’s sole entrant to this year’s Isle of Man TT.

2020 Road Racing Rumours : 2020 Bournemouth Kawasaki
2020 Road Racing Rumours : 2020 Bournemouth Kawasaki

 “I’m delighted to announce my plans for the 2020 International road racing season and equally delighted to be riding for Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki. Their record on the roads with James Hillier, in terms of both results and reliability, along with their reputation within the bike industry, speak for themselves and with it being such a family-orientated team, it’s the perfect fit for me. It’s a highly reputable, professional team who have achieved great things on both the roads and the circuits and, for me, they tick all the boxes.”

“Pete drove all the way up from Bournemouth to Morecambe to meet me and put the offer on the table and it didn’t take much for me to sign – it was an easy decision. Everything made perfect sense and we’ve put together a good plan that will put us in the best position possible for the TT and North West 200. After my performances at Macau, I really got my mojo back and, with my leg now 100%, I feel like I’m as riding as well as ever. Joining Kawasaki and Pete’s team and riding the Ninja ZX-10RR is a new chapter for me, one I’m excited about and really looking forward to.”

John McGuinness

Derek Shiels and Burrows Engineering Part Ways :

Derek Shiels at the NW200
Derek Shiels at the NW200

Irish rider Derek Sheils has split with Burrows Engineering after four years with the team.

Together with John Burrows’ independent team, Sheils posted a fourth-place finish in the Superbike race at May’s North West 200.

The Dubliner also won the Ulster and Irish Superbike titles last season.

Sheils’ last race with the team was at November’s Macau Grand Prix, where the 37-year-old crashed out unhurt after a multi-bike pile-up.

Going up against the impressive Derek McGee, Sheils and Burrows proved to be a strong combination on the Irish national road race scene with over 30 victories in their time together.

“There is no ill-feeling whatsoever and Derek and myself remain good friends, so I wish him all the best for the future.”

“He was unsure of his plans this year and I gave Derek a deadline of last Friday to decide if he would continue with us in 2020 because I have commitments with sponsors and we need to put a team together.

“He wasn’t able to give me an answer so we decided to go our separate ways this year. We enjoyed a lot of success together and won a lot of races.”

John Burrows

On a completely unrelated note – how good do those Burrows Engineering bikes always look!


2020 Road Racing Rumours : 2020 NW200
2020 Road Racing Rumours : 2020 NW200

The fonaCAB & Nicholl Oils North West 200 will have a new look for 2020 with a major change being introduced to the Thursday race schedule.

Reacting to requests from race teams and competitors, the NW200 organisers have rejigged the Thursday schedule to include a Superbike race for the first time.

Practice will take place as per normal with four sessions on Thursday morning after roads are closed at 9.15am. The Supertwins race, normally run on Thursday evening, will now take place after practice in the afternoon before the roads re-open.

Roads close again at 5pm with the new Superbike race kicking off the action followed by Superstock and Supersport events. All of the Thursday races will be run over four lap races before the roads re-open at 9pm.

Tuesday’s practice schedules and Saturday’s race programme remain unchanged with five practice sessions on Tuesday and five races on Saturday.

You can read the full press release here : https://www.northwest200.org/new-superbike-race-introduced-to-thursday-race-schedule-at-2020-fonacab-nicholl-oils-north-west-200/

Make sure you stay up to day with all changes by subscribing to the TBNI Road Racing Calendar.

Burrows Engineering/RK Racing sign roads prospect Mike Browne for 2020

2020 Road Racing Rumours : Burrows Engineering/RK Racing
2020 Road Racing Rumours : Burrows Engineering/RK Racing

The Irishman will ride a Superstock Suzuki GSX-R1000 and a Yamaha YZF-R6 for John Burrows’ team at the Irish national road races this season, plus the North West 200 and the TT.

I’ve been keeping an eye on Mike Browne for a while now and I had a good chat with him at the TT last year.

I’m excited to work with Mike because he’s a young rider who I feel has good potential.

He has a good attitude to racing and I was impressed with his 18th place in the Supersport race at the TT, where he only had limited laps due to the bad run of wet weather.

John Burrows

Gary Dunlop Steps Back from Racing in 2020 :

Gary Dunlop
Gary Dunlop

IRISH Moto 3 Champion Gary Dunlop will not defend his title this year revealing that he will be taking a step back from racing.

The decision follows a remarkable 2019 for the Ballymoney man who clinched his first-ever road racing title during the East Coast Racing Festival at Killalane back in September. It was a dream come true for Dunlop less than five months ago, however, after much deliberation, the 36-year-old has decided to take a back seat in order to focus his attention on managing the successful Joey’s Bar MCC racing team.

I’m going to take a back seat this year. After William’s accident I had a thing in my head that I wanted to win the Irish Championship.

I gave it a good rattle last year and I was lucky enough to win the Championship so that is me satisfied. I have achieved what I wanted in racing.

Gary Dunlop

BSB rider James Ellison to make Road Racing Debut at 2020 North West 200 :

James Ellison
James Ellison

British Superbike Championship rider James Ellison is to make his road racing debut at the North West 200.

Ellison will compete for Powerslide Motorcycles alongside team owner Brad Clarke, who will also race. 

“Brad’s doing the North West 200 this year, and when he said he was doing it, I said that I would come and mechanic for him. I’m a fully qualified motorcycle mechanic as well. And he said: ‘Why don’t you race?'”

James Ellison

The former MotoGP rider was one of 10 newcomers who were shown around the Triangle circuit this week to prepare for making their bow. 

“The North West is something that has kind of appealed to me but I’ve never been able to commit to it before now,” Ellison told BBC Sport NI.

“It’s just a perfect opportunity this year. Every other year I’ve been focused on BSB, World Supersport Championship or MotoGP and it literally absorbs all of your time. 

“This year I’ve haven’t committed to any championship apart from the World Endurance which opens up a bit of time to do other things.”

Click here for the full BBC Sports Article : https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/northern-ireland/51469629

Paul Jordan Signs for Burrows Engineering :

Paul Jordan will ride for Burrows Engineering / RK Racing at the 2020 Irish National Races
2020 Road Racing Rumours : Paul Jordan will ride for Burrows Engineering / RK Racing at the 2020 Irish National Races

Ulster Grand Prix winner Paul Jordan has put pen to paper on a deal with Northern Ireland’s Burrows Engineering/RK Racing team to compete at the Irish national road races in 2020.

The 28-year-old – a former 125cc Irish road racing champion and Supersport race winner – will concentrate solely on the Irish national meetings for John Burrows’ Co. Tyrone-based team this year, when he will ride a Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superbike and Yamaha YZF-R6. Jordan joins rising talent Mike Browne in the line-up, who will compete at the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT in addition to the Irish national meetings on a Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superstock machine and Yamaha YZF-R6.

Team principal – John Burrows:

“First and foremost, this has probably been the hardest year to date since I started running a team to actually put together a line-up. It has been especially difficult because of the limited number of riders available but I have a duty to sponsors to have the most competitive team possible out on track. I feel with Paul Jordan coming in to spearhead the team alongside Mike Browne, we have a strong combination for national road racing. We are really looking forward to running Mike at the international meetings, although I am a bit disappointed that we don’t have Paul available for the internationals. Unfortunately, when he left RC Express Racing, Paul had finalised other commitments for the international races by the time myself and Derek Sheils parted company.

“I had to make a decision and I decided that half a loaf of bread is better than no bread, so we came to a deal with Paul to run him at the Irish nationals. We’re really pleased to have him on board and I’m excited about the season ahead because it is a completely new line-up for Irish road racing. I will give both lads 100 per-cent support and so will the team.

Paul is an experienced 600cc rider and Mike has proven his worth in the Supersport class last year, so I don’t think they will be far away from the front in the 600cc class. I feel they have the talent to do a good job but when it comes to the 1000cc class, I certainly don’t expect Paul to be winning races straight away. This new challenge excites me and I hope both riders can progress their careers with the team in the big bike class. Charlotte Richardson from RK Racing is passionate about bringing along new talent and by having Mike on board, we are fulfilling that criteria and I’m looking forward to seeing what the season brings.”

Paul Jordan:

“It’s fantastic to be joining a team like Burrows Engineering/RK Racing because John has so much experience and I know this is a move that will really benefit me. It will be nice to work with Mike Browne as well because he’s been coming through the field strongly. Being in the team will ensure I get a lot of track time this year at the Irish nationals and that is only going to bring my riding on. You only have to look at the calibre of riders who have been with this team in the past, like Dan Kneen, Malachi Mitchell-Thomas, Davey Todd and of course Derek Sheils. The team is local to me and I only live about 15 minutes away from John’s house, so that is going to prove useful as well. 

“In the past, I’ve been going to the Irish national road races with just my 600 and we’ve been setting the bike up ourselves and doing all the work on it, so having a team behind me is really going to ease that burden and I’ll be able to basically turn up, throw my leg over the bikes and race. At present, we are aiming to do selected Irish national road races but wherever we race, I’ll be aiming to be challenging for wins on the 600 and Superbike. 

“I’ve never raced a 1000cc Suzuki before and I only sat on one for the first time when we did the team photoshoot. The plan is to ride the bike for the first time at Kirkistown in a test at the end of March. The bikes look absolutely fantastic and I’m really looking forward to doing a good job for the team this year.”

The 2020 Burrows Engineering / RK Racing Rider Lineup
The 2020 Burrows Engineering / RK Racing Rider Lineup

I finished my previous rumour mill post with this paragraph :

So as you can see it has been an active off season so far and there are still some big questions to answer, like what about Michael Dunlop, what about Ian Hutchinson, John McGuinness is still under contract for another year to Norton, but Norton have hardly made an utter since last year’s TT – will they even race on 2020? Will we see the iconic blue and white Tyco livery on the roads and could we see a Ducati on the Isle of Man? A big few months still to come by the look of it!


And now we have some answers, but there are still some questions out there such as what about Michael Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson. Even Micky D says he doesn’t know what is happening!

I don’t even want to mention Norton, because that whole situation is an absolute shambles and a true disaster for anyone who had invested money in that Company. Every day more truths are coming out and it doesn’t look to be going in a positive direction.

It looks pretty much like there are a few bad certainties this year. It looks like there will be no 2020 Ulster Grand Prix and it looks like Tyco BWM will not be represented on the roads, but my biggest prediction is still out there.

Ducati will ride the Isle of Man TT 2020 – could MD be in the saddle? – It’s just a theory, a prediction, but a fun and exciting one.

If the news keeps coming as thick and fast as it has over the last six weeks there will be at least another Rumour post before the season kicks off at the 2020 Cookstown 100!


About The Author

I am a road race loving, adventure motorcyclist, with a huge bit of techie built in.  I am currently trying out a bit of photography.

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