Michael Dunlop determined to give home fans plenty to roar about as he eyes up Superbike glory at North West 200

Michael Dunlop decided to provide dwelling followers a lot to roar about as he eyes up Superbike glory at North West 200

This time final week, Michael Dunlop had but to verify his alternative of Superbike machine for the North West 200 following his dramatic cut up from Paul Bird’s Ducati workforce final month.

oday, Dunlop will try to clinch his first victory within the blue riband class since 2016 on the Hawk Racing Suzuki, which he unveiled within the race paddock solely 5 days in the past.

The Ballymoney man solely rode the GSXR-1000RR machine in anger on the roads for the primary time in Tuesday’s opening qualifying session across the 8.9-mile Triangle course, however Dunlop got here out with all weapons blazing.

He ended the day second quickest, solely 0.173s behind Australian BSB star Josh Brookes, who jumped on the probability to return to the North West for the primary time in eight years on the MCE Ducati when the chance arose following Dunlop’s departure.

Four-time Superbike winner Glenn Irwin raised the bar in remaining qualifying on Thursday to grab pole place for at this time’s two Superbike races, with the Carrickfergus man unofficially breaking Dunlop’s 2016 lap file by 1.8s with a blistering 124mph lap on the Honda Racing Fireblade.

Dunlop, although, improved his personal time by 5 seconds on the Suzuki to safe a spot on the second row of the grid behind Irwin, Peter Hickman (FHO Racing BMW) and Richard Cooper (Hawk Suzuki), the place he’s sandwiched between DAO Kawasaki’s Dean Harrison and Davey Todd on the Milenco by Padgett’s Honda.

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It could be a tall order for Dunlop to return to his NW200 Superbike glory days given his lack of mileage on the brand new Suzuki, however the 33-year-old stays the outright lap file holder on the occasion and gained’t go down with no battle.

The 19-time Isle of Man TT winner has a large following, significantly on the North West 200, which is virtually on his doorstep.

Sadly, Michael is the final member of his legendary motorcycling household carrying the baton ahead, however he’s decided that the Dunlop title will stay on the forefront of street racing for a very long time to return.

“The North West is barely up the street from me and it was all the time like a giant dwelling race,” he stated.

“There’s loads of followers come out and other people actually simply need to see a Dunlop on the grid.

“Sadly I’m the one one left now to hold the title, and the followers need to see that.

“We’re on the again foot, however that was all the time going to be the case anyway,” he added.

“But I’ll have a go and I can solely do my finest. I’m nonetheless the lap file holder right here and other people discuss this as a build-up to the TT, however for me I need to win anyplace I’m going and it’s no completely different on the North West.”

Fellow Ulsterman Irwin will line up because the favorite at this time after his blistering efficiency in remaining qualifying on Thursday, when he additionally claimed pole within the Superstock class.

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He opted to sit down out Thursday’s Superstock race together with team-mate John McGuinness because of the poor circumstances, however with dry climate anticipated on the north coast at this time, the Carrickfergus rider can be a person on a mission as he units off in pursuit of a fifth Superbike victory in a row.

“Qualifying was so good, I had an excellent feeling from the primary lap and set about our work,” Irwin stated.

“To go underneath the sooner ever lap by two seconds is one thing that pleases me loads and once more reveals the potential of the Fireblade as a roads package deal, in addition to our potential for this weekend.”

On his choice to not race on Thursday, Irwin added: “I spoke with John (McGuinness) about (Thursday) night’s Superstock race and spoke with some riders within the 600 race, and made the choice to sit down it out.

“I’ve a younger household and racing on the roads within the rain will not be a threat I’m keen to take, so sorry to the followers however I’m certain everybody will perceive, and we’ll be again in motion on Saturday.”

Irwin’s chief opposition at this time may come from fellow British Superbike contender Hickman, who was second quickest general in qualifying on the FHO BMW M1000RR, 2.2s slower than his Honda rival.

Hickman is a Superbike winner on the TT, Ulster Grand Prix and Macau, with a NW200 victory within the premier class the one obtrusive omission from his glittering street racing CV.

“I need to win a Superbike race — I need to win each race I’m in,” Hickman stated.

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“The Superbike is working properly and I simply missed out on getting a remaining quick lap on Thursday when the flag went out, however I’m comfortable.”

Impressive Nottingham ace Cooper is one other main contender and the 39-year-old has already sealed a podium end with third in Thursday’s Superstock race.

A double British Superstock 1000 champion, Cooper was the highest newcomer in 2019 and is continuous to shine this week, whereas Bradford’s Harrison is one other potential winner on the DAO Racing Kawasaki as he targets a primary ever success on the North West.

Tuesday pacesetter Brookes completed second within the 2014 function Superbike race and can be quietly optimistic of his prospects on the sweet-sounding MCE Ducati, whereas Milenco by Padgett’s Honda rider Todd is having a improbable week thus far and is a darkish horse on the brand new CBR1000RR-R Fireblade.

Thursday’s double winner Alastair Seeley will begin from eleventh on the grid on the IFS Yamaha after struggling together with his R1 Superbike.

The 26-time winner has converted to the Superstock machine he has been driving on this 12 months’s Ulster Superbike Championship for at this time’s Superbike races and definitely can’t be discounted from a rostrum cost.

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