North West 200: Worldwide street race ‘blasts again into motion’

Riders on the start-line for the primary observe session on the North West 200
Venue: Triangle Circuit Portstewart-Coleraine-Portrush Dates: 10-14 Might
Protection: Reside video streams of all observe classes and races; Reside Radio Ulster and BBC Sounds protection and textual content commentary on all races; TV highlights on BBC One NI on Friday 13 Might, Sunday 15 Might and Monday 16 Might.

It had been a very long time coming… however at 10:23 BST on Tuesday bike racing bikes lastly revved again into motion on the Triangle circuit for the primary time since 2019.

After that two-year absence due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this 12 months’s North West 200 has been much more keenly anticipated than traditional and there was a tangible buzz within the paddock located between the seaside cities of Portrush and Portstewart because the seconds ticked away to the street closure time of 09:15 and the primary of the observe classes.

The crowds weren’t on the size of the tens of 1000’s anticipated to lap up the motion on Thursday and Saturday race days, however a sizeable variety of spectators have been in place from early morning to e book their most well-liked vantage level behind the hedges, partitions and fences across the nine-mile public roads circuit.

Intervals of superb sunshine have been punctuated with intermittent showers and excessive winds however the rain, when it got here, did not dampen the spirits or curb the passion of the followers who had been disadvantaged of their annual pace repair for too lengthy.

The course, awash with the color of sponsors’ branding, regarded in mint situation and the ‘pop-up village’ which performs host to marquees, large transporters, portacabins and awnings, along with the bikes themselves, gave ‘the pits’ all of the look of a serious motorsport occasion.

All this in opposition to the spectacular backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean, the flags representing the nations of all of the competing riders fluttering within the sea breeze above the grandstands which assist create the sense of an amphitheatre match to host the drama which is able to unfold on monitor over the approaching days.

The organising Coleraine and District Motor Membership has assembled a stellar line-up of machines and rivals for the return of certainly one of Northern Eire’s showpiece sporting occasions and the engines roared into life with the session for newcomers, full with their obligatory orange bibs.

Whereas the immediately recognisable massive names could entice a lot of the headlines throughout race week, the riders who’re new to the course and people additional down the sector every have their very own private hopes and ambitions to grasp.

Lee Johnston
Lee Johnston gained the opening Supersport race on the final staging of the North West in 2019

First up of the qualifying classes for the precise courses was the Supersports and on the finish of their observe interval it was Fermanagh native Lee Johnston who led the way in which on his Ashcourt Racing Yamaha.

His common pace of 114.132mph was 1.2 seconds quicker than fellow Northern Irishman Michael Dunlop, with Kawasaki-mounted Dean Harrison third.

Yorkshire rider Davey Todd, like Johnston a Supersport winner three years in the past, occupied fourth place on the leaderboard, adopted by report 24-time race winner Alastair Seeley and McAdoo Kawasaki’s Adam McLean.

Josh Brookes (left) was fastest of the Superbikes in Tuesday practice
Josh Brookes (left) was quickest of the Superbikes in Tuesday observe

Subsequent up was the blue riband Superbike class and by the top of their session it was Australian double British Superbike champion Josh Brookes who set the provisional pole place pace at 120.045mph on his Ducati.

Dunlop was second quickest, adopted by Todd, Seeley, four-time Superbike winner Glenn Irwin and James Hillier.

Richard Cooper, the quickest newcomer two years in the past, led the Supertwins class at 101.465mph, adopted by Frenchman Pierre Yves Bian, three-time winner Jeremy McWilliams and Michael Rutter.

The Superstock session started in changeable circumstances however Dunlop finally recorded the quickest common lap pace when the monitor started to dry at 115.273mph, with Rutter and Cooper making up the highest three locations.

The second observe run is scheduled for Thursday morning and early afternoon, with racing on Thursday night and Saturday.

Tuesday observe leaderboard

Superbikes – 1 Josh Brookes (Ducati) 120.045mph; 2 Michael Dunlop (Suzuki) 119.967; 3 Davey Todd (Honda) 119.648; 4 Alastair Seeley (Yamaha) 119.64; 5 Glenn Irwin (Honda) 119.095; 6 James Hillier (Yamaha) 118.081

Superstocks – 1 Michael Dunlop (Honda) 115.272mph; 2 Michael Rutter (BMW) 114.929; 3 Richard Cooper (Suzuki) 113.431; 4 Dominic Herbertson (Suzuki) 113.015; 5 Ian Hutchinson (BMW) 112.874; 6 James Hillier (Yamaha) 112.169.

Supersports – 1 Lee Johnston (Yamaha) 114.132mph; 2 Michael Dunlop (Yamaha) 113.642; 3 Dean Harrison (Kawasaki) 113.330; 4 Davey Todd (Honda) 113.088; 5 Alastair Seeley (Yamaha) 112.923; 6 Adam McLean (Kawasaki) 112.898.

Supertwins – 1 Richard Cooper (Kawasaki) 101.465mph; 2 Pierre Yves Bian (Paton) 101.086; 3 Jeremy McWilliams (Paton) 100.477; 4 Michael Rutter (Paton) 100.374; 5 Joe Loughlin (Paton) 98.419; 6 Christian Elkin (Kawasaki) 98.221

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