North West 200: Glenn Irwin retains Superbike bragging rights with fourth straight win
Glenn Irwin made it four Superbike victories in a row at the North West 200 after a perfectly executed last lap move on team-mate James Hillier.
He became only the second winner of a Superbike race at the event on a Kawasaki, following on from Mick Grant’s win in 1977. Manx rider Conor Cummins was third on the Milenco by Padgett’s Honda followed by Derek Sheils (Burrows Engineering/RK Racing Suzuki) and Alastair Seeley on the PBM Be Wiser Ducati V4-R.
English rider Hillier led for the majority of the shortened four-lap race, which got underway on damp roads at 4.25pm.
Irwin seemed content to sit behind his team-mate, with Cummins also keeping a watching brief in third. Seeley led at Ballysally on lap one but began to drop backwards as the race progressed.
The top five opened a big advantage over impressive newcomer Richard Cooper in sixth on the Buildbase Suzuki, with Michael Rutter on his own in seventh on the Bathams/Aspire-Ho Honda.
Hillier, who was riding his Superstock machine, appeared on course for his first ever NW200 win but Irwin had other ideas. On the final lap, he made his move into Juniper Hill chicane and had enough in reserve to keep his nose in front as he wrapped up another coveted Superbike success by only 0.163s.
Cummins was just three-tenths-of-a-second adrift in third as he sealed another rostrum result following his third place finish in the Supersport race.
Irwin said: “It was flat out all the way in the Superbike race and it was nice to have the race with James and Conor as they’re two really good friends and riders who I have so much respect for.
“We’ve trained together over winter but James was so much quicker than me through Church and Dhu Varren so I knew I had to try something different on the last lap which I did at Magherabuoy. I was quicker than him on some parts, particularly through Black Hill and I got a good run through there on the last lap and was able to make the pass.
“It was an awesome race though and so much fun to be a part of even though conditions were tricky.”
Sheils rode a strong race in fourth, almost 10 seconds behind Irwin, but he was well clear of Seeley in fifth.
Cooper, Rutter and Matthew Rees from Aberdare rounded out the top eight.
A number of riders sat out the race, including Dean Harrison, who qualified second fastest, plus Peter Hickman and Lee Johnston.
Michael Dunlop was a retirement on the Tyco BMW, with Gary Johnson also pulling into the pits on his RAF Reserves Kawasaki.
The feature North West 200 Superbike race was cancelled due to deteriorating conditions and fading light at the North West 200.
Event Director Mervyn Whyte said: "We didn’t have much luck during the early part of the day when we faced very challenging conditions but the teams, competitors and fans all stayed with us and we turned things around.
"We have decided in the interests of safety to bring the proceedings to a close now because the conditions have deteriorated once again. It is disappointing but I want to pay tribute to everyone who has supported us today and braved the weather to cheer on the riders as they put on a fantastic spectacle."The Carrick man had earlier said he wouldn’t race unless roads were dry around the 8.9-mile Triangle course, but Irwin took his place on pole position on the Quattro Plant/Wicked Coatings Kawasaki and his decision paid off.
Hampshire’s James Hillier was a dominant winner of the Superstock race at the North West 200 as he toasted his first ever win at the event.
Hillier had a lead of around 20 seconds at one stage in the six-lap race on the Quattro Plant Kawasaki, with as rain increased in the closing stages, his lead was cut but he still held on to win from brilliant newcomer Richard Cooper on the Buildbase Suzuki, with third going to Davey Todd (Penz BMW).
Davey Todd claimed his maiden international road racing victory at the North West 200 in a wet Supersport race.
Riding the Milenco by Padgett’s Racing Honda, Todd managed to hold off Mullingar man Derek McGee on his Kawasaki to seal the win by 0.3 seconds.
Manx rider Conor Cummins finished third on the second of Clive Padgett’s Honda machines, 0.2s behind McGee.
Magherafelt man Paul Jordan took fourth on the Logan Racing Yamaha, with the top six completed by Christian Elkin and Joseph Loughlin.
A host of top names sat out the race due to the conditions, including Peter Hickman, Dean Harrison, Michael Dunlop, Gary Johnson, Lee Johnson, James Hillier and Ian Hutchinson. Record holder Alastair Seeley missed the race after his EHA Yamaha suffered a blow up during the second restart at University.
The Supersport race was red-flagged twice due to non-serious incidents. Three riders came off at Black Hill, including Spanish racer Victor Lopez, Daley Mathison and David Murphy in separate incidents in the initial two attempted race starts.
The third attempt at the race got underway around 3pm following delays due to rain, an oil spill at Black Hill, a track inspection at University following Seeley’s engine failure and a problem with electrical power cables at Heatherlea Avenue near York Corner in Portstewart.
Jeremy McWilliams won his third Supertwin race at the North West 200 on the KMR Kawasaki from Christian Elkin, with Michael Rutter finishing third.