NW200: Johnston Heads Supersport First Qualifying

NW200: Johnston Heads Supersport First Qualifying

37 minutes behind schedule, timed qualifying sessions began at 11:07 PM at the 2022 FonaCAB & Nicholl Oils North West 200.

First out on track were the Supersport 600 speedsters, many of whom previous, existing NW200 victors.

Above average conditions greeted racers, post bouts of rain, in-consistent weather all-round.

Post opening timed laps, DAO Racing’s Dean Harrison was setting the pace, besting Michael Sweeney by almost 3.7 seconds.

Soon though it was all change as James Hillier, having his first roads outing in Rich Energy OMG Racing colours, recorded a times sheet topping time of 4 minutes 51.214 seconds.

16 times TT winner Ian Hutchinson aboard the Russell Racing/Boyce Precision Engineering Yamaha then posted the speediest lap time, 4 minutes 49.650 seconds.

At mid qualifying distance, the order was Hutchinson P1, Hillier P2, McAdoo Kawasaki’s Adam McLean P3 but then another shake-up as Michael Dunlop went sub 4 minutes 48 seconds.

Dunlop’s third timed lap, at the time placed him just over two seconds ahead of long-term International roads rival Hutchinson.

As Supersport Q1 entered it’s closing stages, NW200 wins record holder Alastair Seeley, reigning Senior TT Champion Harrison both bested Dunlop’s best lap time.

Then another change at the front as pre-race favourite Ashcourt Racing’s Lee Johnston, found an extra touch of pace, lapping at 4 minutes 44.924 seconds.

He went onto register a new swiftest lap time, almost two seconds faster, lapping at 4 minutes 42.935 seconds.
This enabled him to finish fastest by just over 1.2 seconds ahead of 19 times TT winner Dunlop (4.44.155).

Top Kawasaki runner Harrison (4.44.938) was third fastest ahead of Milenco by Padgetts Davey Todd (4.45.547).

Wrapping up today’s ten most rapid Supersport pilots were 24 times NW200 winner Seeley, Cookstown Supersport lap record holder McLean, the evergreen Jeremy McWilliams.

Manxman Conor Cummins, former session pace setter Hutchinson and Team ILR/Mark Coverdale’s Joe Loughlin.

Photo credit: Rod Neill

Words by Stevie Rial #dontletfearcontrolyou

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