North West 200 first practice report
The Relentless international North west 200 road races started today with at first cold and damp conditions but that improved over the day to provide some stunning high speed action on 2 wheels. Alastair Seeley on the Tyco Suzuki superbike started where he left off from the previous two years at the North West by dominating the opening superbike practice session. He took the fastest time of the day by over 3 seconds from John Mcguinness returning to the North West 200 this year aboard the Honda TT legends superbike. 3rd was William Dunlop on-board the Wilson Craig Honda superbike, 4th was Lincolnshire rider the enigmatic Guy Martin on the Tyco Suzuki and in 5th place was now speed record holder at the North West 200 Martin Jessopp who achieved a speed of over 208 mph in todays opening practice session.
Story of the day without any shadow of doubt was the return to the roads this season of 5 times in a week TT winner Ian Hutchinson. Ian who has been recovering for now what seems like ever from an horrific leg injury returned to the North West 200 today and went sixth fastest on the Swan Yamaha. The top 10 for the superbike practice was rounded out by Michael Dunlop, Cameron Donald, Michael Rutter and Gary Johnson. Fastest newcomer was Horst Saiger in 18th position followed by Honda TT legends rider Simon Andrews in 19th position.
In the superstock practice today which was shortened due to rain coming down on the track, Ryan Farquhar was fastest on his KMR Kawasaki superstocker. In 2nd was Alastair Seeley 3rd was John Mcguinness on the Padgetts Honda fireblade also Padgetts had two riders in the top five for superstock practice with New Zealand’s Bruce Anstey in 5th position just behind Stephen Thompson on his BMW sr1000 supported by Taylor Lyndsey racing. Supersport practice saw Alastair Seeley again at the top of the timetables this time on the Suzuki Gsxr-600 prepared again by Tyco Suzuki. Second was his team mate Guy Martin and 3rd was John Mcguinness once again on-board the Padgetts Honda Cbr-600.
William Dunlop was fourth in supersport practice with Gary Johnson in fifth and in sixth position was one of the rides of the day for me Italian rider Stefano Bonetti who was ahead of top road racers such as Michael Dunlop, Cameron Donald and the returning Ian Hutchinson. Fastest in the super-twin class was Adrian Archibald riding the Mckinstry racing prepared Kawasaki Er-6. The next four positions in the top 5 where all taken by bikes prepared by Ryan Farquhar. Ryan himself was in 4th place for this practice session with his team mate Michael Rutter for this class at the North West and the TT in 2nd place with James Hillier finished 3rd in the session and the third KMR Kawasaki of Jamie Hamilton in 5th place.
Finishing 9th in this practice session was North West 200 and former motorcycle grand prix podium finisher Jeremy Mcwilliams on the 4th KMR Kawasaki Er-6 super-twin. Overall the practice sessions for all classes today went well and the weather held for the practice right up until the last practice session of the day in the superstock class.
On Thursday we will two night races at the North West 200 with the superstock and super-twin races both happening in the evening session of racing. From todays times in practice its still hard to say who will be up there on Thursday and Saturday but already one record has gone today the fastest speed ever recorded at the North West 200 with a speed of 208 mph so who’s to say that more records won’t go in the days coming up.