North West 200 Race Day report
The first race up on the schedule for the days racing in what was bright sunny conditions! Was the supersport race 1. From the start we saw a group of around 4 riders break to the front and it was Alastair Seeley who took the lead but not for long before William Dunlop on the Wilson Craig racing Honda took the lead. From here Dunlop broke clear and opened up an over 3 seconds lead over Seeley in second with John Mcguinness in third. At the line at the end of six racing laps the top remained the same, the second North West 200 win of William Dunlop’s career and the best so far.
Next race up was the opening superbike race, from the start Alastair Seeley on the Tyco Suzuki and John Mcguinness on the Honda TT legends racing fireblade went away from the chasing pack by up to 5 seconds. By mid race distance thought the race was about to change when Seeley went straight on at one of the chicanes around the circuit and this allowed Mcguinness in second at the time to take the lead to the tune of up to 10 seconds over now in second Michael Rutter with Ryan Farquhar in hot pursuit on the KMR Kawasaki superbike. Seeley now down to 14th worked his way through the field back up to 2nd but it was to little to late as Mcguinness comfortably won his sixth North West 200 race by over 4 seconds at the line.
2nd was Seeley with Cameron Donald creating a late charge of pace to clinch the final spot on the podium. Following on from Thursday night’s superstock race the second superstock race was next up in the racing proceedings. A group of three Alastair Seeley, Ryan Farquhar and James Hillier riding for the PR1MO Bournemouth Kawasaki where all battling amongst each other for the lead of the race. But on corrected time from the second wave of riders Michael Rutter was in the lead by over 1 second and then upped it to over 2 seconds. With the MSS Bathams Kawasaki rider in such fine form the leading pack could do little to stop him from winning his 13th North West 200 race from Alastair Seeley and in third James Hillier clinching his first ever international road race podium.
Supersport race 2 would see the usual slip streaming effect that it has on races around the North West 200 circuit with up to four different riders taking the lead at one point in the race. By lap 4 Alastair Seeley and William Dunlop had broke away from in 3rd and 4th place Cameron Donald and Bruce Anstey riding once again this year for Padgetts racing. As we went into the final lap Seeley and Dunlop where almost level going along the coast roads before Seeley made what can only be called as a bold pass on William Dunlop which effectively handed him his first race win of the day and his second at the North West 200 this year.
William Dunlop finished in second position in this race with Bruce Anstey third, Cameron Donald fourth, John Mcguinness fifth and Michael Dunlop in sixth position.
So finally last race of the day was the big one the feature North West 200 superbike race. Once again as in the opening superbike race of the day both Alastair Seeley and John Mcguinness broke away from the chasing pack but this time going with them was Michael Rutter who was on a charge. By lap 3 and then 4 Seeley had established a reasonable gap on Mcguinness and Rutter. Rutter then overtook Mcguinness on lap 5 and set off trying to reel in Seeley who was by now around 1.5 seconds in front of him. At the line though Alastair Seeley took his second win of the day and completed a hat trick of race wins over the racing week on his Tyco Suzuki by TAS machine.
Michael Rutter came home in a brilliant second place from ninth on the grid with race 1 superbike winner John Mcguinness coming home in a consistent third place on his Honda TT legends superbike. In 4th place in the second superbike race was John Mcguinness team mate and newcomer to the North West 200 Simon Andrews who on aggregate was home in 4th place a top ride by someone still recovering from injury. 5th and 6th where Michael Dunlop and James Hillier but in 7th place was the comeback king Ian Hutchinson and after what Ian has been through I must say one of the rides of the day and its great to see him back battling it out on the roads circuits again. A top ride in 10th place was Brian Mccormack on his Honda fireblade.
Finally a big well done to Dan Kneen, Ben Wylie, Stephen Thompson, Horst Saiger, Michael Sweeney and Dan Cooper for all achieving top 10 finishes today in the ultra competitive superbike, superstock and supersport races. Also on a sad note today top road racer Mark Buckley was killed during the superstock race whilst competing in the sport he loved, this is sadly the dark side of the great sport that is road racing RIP Mark.
So the day at the North West 200 ended in a number of emotions elation, excitement, surprise, tension and sadness. But it was for me the best North West 200 for many years and with it brings within a week or so the biggest race of them all about to start the Isle of Man TT.