Bright blue skies, blustery gusting winds were waiting for International roads giants a plenty as North West 200 Superbike first qualifying took centre stage.
Fastest out the blocks was world’s fastest road racer Peter Hickman, who’s opening flying lap time was almost sub 4 minutes 36 seconds.
19 minutes into the session, Michael Dunlop having his first competitive outing aboard the brand- new Hawk Racing Suzuki steed, stormed to the top of the live timing leader-board.
Dunlop registered the first lap time below 4 minutes 30 seconds, 4 minutes 29.954 seconds.
With just over ten minutes of Q1 to run, 14 racers had set sub 4 minutes 40 second lap times, with Alastair Seeley leading the chase to Dunlop.
Seeley then nudged Dunlop off provisional pole, lapping just 0.045 quicker than his fellow Countryman.
Towards the conclusion of Q1, Dunlop jumped back to provisional pole, lapping at 4 minutes 29.173 seconds.
This was soon surpassed by high-profile NW200 returnee Josh Brookes.
Multiple BSB Champion Brookes piloting the PBM Ducati originally intended to be raced by 19 times TT winner Dunlop, posted a best lap time of exactly 4 minutes 29 seconds, equating in mph terms to 120.045 mph.
This placed him 0.173 ahead of Dunlop, who in turn was just over 0.7 ahead of Milenco by Padgetts Davey Todd (4.29.891).
IFS/Global Logistics supported Seeley (4.29.909) finished fourth quickest, qualifying lap record holder Honda Racing’s Glenn Irwin placed fifth fastest.
Whilst positions sixth through to tenth were occupied by James Hillier, speediest NW200 newcomer in history Richard Cooper, Conor Cummins, Macau GP wins record holder Michael Rutter and TT, Ulster GP lap record holder Hickman.
Photo credit: Tommy Vennard
Words by Stevie Rial #dontletfearcontrolyou