Sweltering heat, crisp blue skies greeted a host of International road racing superstars, rising stars, promising new talents for the opening practice sessions of the BSB support classes and feature British Superbike Championship series.
World’s fastest road racer, Mountain Course lap record holder Peter Hickman got his latest BSB campaign off to a pretty productive start, by finishing today seventh quickest.
Hickman who outpaced the likes of Christian Iddon, Luke Mossey, Kyle Ryde and Tommy Bridewell who was tipped in recent years to sample the North West 200, posted a best lap time of 1 minute 07.079 seconds.
Photo by Tommy Vennard
Just 0.032 of a second quicker than Hickman this afternoon was respected rival Honda Racing’s Glenn Irwin.
Four times NW200 victor Irwin is step by step beginning to hit the sweet spot with the much lauded, brand new CBR1000RR-R Fireblade and like five times TT winner Hickman is a undoubted contender this weekend for top five finishes or better.
On1 Racing’s Brian McCormack return to the BSB series, didn’t begin in great fashion with the Waterford racer not setting a representative lap time from today’s 45 minute practice session.
New Bathams Racing team member Richard Cooper showcased his class during today’s National Superstock 1000 Championship timed practice sessions.
Second quickest within the opening session, timed session number 2 saw the fastest North West 200 newcomer in history place third fastest, setting a best lap time of 1 minute 08.258 seconds.
Immingham’s Craig Neve, 23 times TT winner John McGuinness qualified respectively 6th, 7th for the Ducati Performance TriOptions Cup races whilst others with impeccable roads course pedigrees showing good form included the following:
Honda Racing’s Davey Todd (13th fastest within the second Superstock 1000 practice session), GP2 British Cup pace setter 24 times North West 200 winner Alastair Seeley.
Binch Racing’s Adam McLean (28 laps completed from Superstock 600 timed practice sessions), 16 times TT winner Ian Hutchinson (22nd quickest from National Superstock 1000 free practice 2) and Ashcourt Racing’s Lee Johnston, York’s Joe Thompson who banked combined 64 laps worth of mileage.
We can’t forget as well Junior Manx GP runner-up Stephen Smith, Rob Hodson who made the most of the track time available plus Market Rasen’s Phil Crowe and last minute Superstock 1000 Championship entrants Michael Dunlop (Buildbase Suzuki) and reigning Senior TT Champion Dean Harrison.
In contrast to the past four seasons, Harrison’s latest racing venture sees him not competing for Silicone Engineering Racing, instead piloting ZX-10 range Kawasaki machinery that is title sponsored by his and brother Adrian Harrison’s new company, Harrison Engineering.
Words by Stevie Rial