Late swap is not any drawback for Michael Dunlop in flying begin at North West 200
Michael Dunlop shrugged off the drama surrounding his break up from Paul Fowl’s MCE Ducati group as he got here out with all weapons blazing in opening apply on the North West 200.
he Ballymoney man secured a late cope with Stuart and Steve Hicken’s Hawk Racing squad to trip a Suzuki GSXR-1000RR within the Superbike class and Dunlop wasted no time in serving a well timed reminder of his prowess across the 8.9-mile Triangle course.
Three years have handed since Irish motorcycling’s flagship occasion was final held, nevertheless it felt as if the NW200 had by no means been away as the game’s high names made the many of the principally positive however blustery circumstances — interspersed with some heavy showers — to put up some spectacular lap speeds. Whereas it was Australian rider Josh Brookes who sealed provisional pole on the MCE Ducati, Dunlop was solely 0.173s behind in second spot on the Superbike time sheets on his newly-acquired Suzuki.
Mockingly, double British Superbike champion Brookes is just competing on the North West this week after the chance arose following Dunlop’s determination to stop Fowl’s group.
His efficiency after an eight-year absence from the north coast assembly was additionally extremely spectacular, with 39-year-old Brookes’ 120.045mph lap the quickest pace general.
Dunlop, although, gave his many dwelling supporters loads of purpose for optimism forward of tomorrow night’s first races, with the 33-year-old setting the tempo within the Superstock class on his MD Racing Honda.
He additionally completed second quickest within the Supersport session behind fellow Northern Eire rider and British Supersport high-flier Lee Johnston.
“The North West is just up the highway for me and it’s all the time been a house race for us,” mentioned an upbeat Dunlop, who posted his quickest lap at 119.967mph on the Hawk Suzuki.
“I’m glad to be again and hopefully we will placed on a present.
“My very own 600 goes properly and the ’stocker is new this 12 months, nevertheless it’s going to be fascinating as a result of it’s the primary worldwide highway race for 3 years and there’s going to be loads of hype for Thursday’s races.
“I’d wish to suppose we will have a go, there’s no purpose why we will’t.
“With the Superbike, it’s undoubtedly going to be a problem, however we have been all the time going to be on the again foot. Steve (Hicken, Hawk Racing group principal) has mentioned he’ll give me 110 per cent and all I can do is come out rocking and provides Steve my 100 per cent as properly.”
Behind pacesetters Brookes and Dunlop, Davey Todd had a robust day because the Milenco by Padgett’s Honda rider slotted into third on the Superbike leader-board forward of 24-time winner Alastair Seeley (IFS Yamaha), with the highest 4 coated by solely nine-tenths-of-a-second.
Pre-race favorite and Honda Racing UK rider Glenn Irwin was fifth quickest. The Carrickfergus man has gained the previous 4 Superbike races on the North West and is using the brand new Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade on the occasion for the primary time.
Hampshire’s James Hillier, the person of the assembly in 2019, was sixth on the Wealthy Power OMG Yamaha.
Fermanagh’s Johnston lived as much as expectations by topping the instances within the Supersport class on his Ashcourt Racing Yamaha.
Johnston was 1.2s sooner than Dunlop, recording his greatest lap at 114.132mph.
Bradford’s Dean Harrison was third quickest on the DAO Racing Kawasaki forward of Todd, Seeley — a 12-time winner within the class – and Tobermore’s Adam McLean on the McAdoo Kawasaki.
Johnston was a Supersport winner in 2019 and he hopes that he can carry his wonderful type within the British Supersport championship into tomorrow’s race.
“The British championship has been going properly and it’s good to shock a number of folks with the tempo we’ve, however there are 10 different folks right here who may win,” mentioned Johnston, who is predicated in Huddersfield.
“If we will carry that over to right here then we needs to be in with an opportunity.”
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