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May 14, 2013

Michael Dunlop Fastest In Superbike Qualifying Tuesday At The North West 200 (Updated)

Honda TT Legends' Michael Dunlop was the fastest Superbike rider during practice Tuesday at the North West 200.

Stuart Easton made an impressive return to the International North West 200 earlier today after a two year absence. The Hawick star finished the opening Supersport practice session in fifth position on his Mar-Train Racing R6 Yamaha, despite difficult conditions.

Easton also made a solid start to his Superbike return on the north coast aboard his Mar-Train Racing R1 Yamaha, with a steady thirteenth place recorded prior to Thursday's final sessions for both classes. This will be followed by a three race programme on Thursday evening for Supersport [6pm], Supertwin [7pm] and Superstock [8pm]. Roads will close at 5.15pm.

Stuart Easton:
“Conditions were slightly iffy at the start, but it was the same for everybody, although we qualified well on the Supersport bike and were just a few seconds off the pace. I’m quite happy with that, as I know the bike pretty well now having ridden it in the opening three British Supersport rounds. It’s just a matter of getting back into the North West 200 circuit groove now, as I know there’s a lot, lot more to come. With the Superbike, we have a few things we need to change, but on the whole, competing on a new bike with very few miles, it’s not a bad start to be honest.”

Tim Martin – Team Principal:
“Taking the conditions into consideration in the morning, it was a good run today. P5 is satisfying enough in the Supersport class, even though Stuart struggled to get a clear lap, but as usual he was able to give the boys positive feedback, so I’m happy with that. We have a few adjustments to make on the Superbike but we’re content with today and are looking forward now to Thursday’s practice and racing.”

Supersport First Qualifying
John McGuinness [Honda] 4min: 48.334sec
Bruce Anstey [Honda] +1.317sec
Guy Martin [Suzuki] +1.955
William Dunlop [Milwaukee Yamaha] +2.162
Stuart Easton [Yamaha] +3.225
Michael Dunlop [Honda] +3.813
James Hillier [Kawasaki] +6.207
Conor Cummins [Milwaukee Yamaha] +8.053
Cameron Donald [Honda] 8.964
Michael Sweeney [Yamaha] +11.248

Superbike First Qualifying
Michael Dunlop [Honda] 4min:33.173
Bruce Anstey [Honda] +7.615sec
Dean Harrison [Kawasaki] +9.712
Josh Brookes [Suzuki] +10.407
William Dunlop [Milwaukee Yamaha] +10.592
Michael Rutter [Honda] +10.756
Cameron Donald [Honda] +12.249
John McGuinness [Honda] +14.842
Conor Cummins [Milwaukee Yamaha] +15.457
Ben Wylie [BMW] +18.086
Stephen Thompson [Suzuki] +19.564
Jonathan Howarth [Kawasaki] +22.085
Stuart Easton [Mar-Train Racing] +22.555

More, from a press release issued by Honda TT Legends:

Honda TT Legends begin road race campaign at NW200

The Honda TT Legends’ 2013 road racing campaign begins this week with the North West 200. The team has arrived in Northern Ireland with its new three-rider line-up of John McGuinness, Michael Rutter and Michael Dunlop – all of whom will compete in the Superbike class aboard the Honda TT Legends CBR1000RR Fireblade.

It’s 20 years since McGuinness’s NW200 debut and he has since clocked up six wins around the 8.9 mile course – including a Superbike victory with the TT Legends in 2012. New signing Rutter first competed in the event in 1992 and has achieved nine of his 13 NW200 wins in the Superbike class. Both will be looking to increase their tally at the 2013 event.

The veterans will be joined in their quest for victory by Honda TT Legends’ other new recruit Michael Dunlop. The one-time North West winner got off to a great start on his road racing debut for the team by topping the timesheet in today’s first Superbike practice session. Rutter placed seventh while McGuinness was ninth fastest.

To watch a preview interview with John McGuinness click here or on the image to the right.

Neil Tuxworth – team manager
We’re very happy to be at the North West 200 with one of our strongest ever line-ups. Not only are we running three riders in the Superbike class, but they are three of the very top riders in road racing. McGuinness and Rutter have multiple NW200 wins between them and they know this race very well, while Dunlop is without a doubt the rising star with a great future ahead of him. All three are capable of getting on the podium and winning races, so we’re looking forward to seeing what the event holds.

John McGuinness
This is my 20th year at the North West 200 and I’m feeling really positive. I know the drill, I know the bike, I’ve got all my usual crew around me and I’m looking forward to it. We tested at Castle Combe a couple of weeks ago and managed to fit in plenty of laps and get a good set up on the bike so we’re ready to go. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for decent weather on race day but everything is in place for a good result. It should be a interesting battle with me and the two Michael’s all on the same team. A 1-2-3 TT Legends podium is not impossible and as long as I’m on the middle step I’ll be happy with that!

Michael Rutter
It’s good to be back at the North West and of course it would be nice to get another win, but it’s one of those places that you just never know what is going to happen until race day. We’re pretty well prepared after the test at Castle Combe and I’m looking forward to it. We’ve got a strong line-up and we’re aiming for the podium. Obviously John did a great job here last year and Michael Dunlop is definitely going to be one to watch out for too – he’s flying. Let’s see what happens when we all get on the bike.

Michael Dunlop
I’m looking forward to the first road racing event with the TT Legends. The two-day test we did at Castle Combe ended well. I got a lot of miles in and did some good work with my mechanics to get the bike ready for the North West. I’m not really feeling any extra pressure other than that I put on myself. I’ve just got to do what I do and ride as hard as I can and hopefully we’ll get the results.

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North West 200 – 2012 schedule
Thursday 16 May Practice:
Roads close 9.30am to 2.30pm

Thursday 17 May Racing:
Roads close 5.15pm to 9.00pm
Supersport race
Supertwin race
Superstock race

Saturday 19 May Racing:
Roads close 10.00am to 6.30pm
Supersport race
Superbike race
Supertwin race
NW200 Superbike race

More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki News Service:

Tyco Suzuki British Superbike rider Josh Brookes made an impressive debut during yesterday's opening Superbike practice session at the International North West 200 in Northern Ireland, posting the fourth fastest time after briefly topping the premier class timesheets.

Guy Martin was equally impressive, taking third spot in the Supersport class on his GSX-R600 Tyco Suzuki, and although the Lincolnshire man requires additional laps to qualify his Superbike on Thursday - his fastest lap was good enough for a front-row grid spot.

In a Superstock session, reduced to just 15 minutes at the end of the day, Brookes managed 21st place on his GSX-R1000, and Martin posted the 15th quickest time, but again requires additional laps on Thursday to qualify his Tyco Suzuki.

Josh Brookes:

"I'm quite surprised how things went on the Superbike, but when I thought about it, it makes sense, as it's the bike I'm familiar with and the bike I've been riding all year. It's doing everything I want it to do, so I got out there and learnt the track and it was going really well and I'm pleased with the qualifying position.

"The Superstock bike was a little unfamiliar for me and I couldn't get it to do what I wanted like the Superbike, although it was the first time I'd ever ridden it and it was a shortened session. We will make some changes and I know the guys will get the Superstock bike where we need it to be. Hopefully we can get some additional dry track time on Thursday and get more momentum. It's a tricky wee place and I think once I learn the track a bit better, and get more laps under my belt, we will go even better."

Guy Martin:

"The 600 bike is mint and although we had a few little issues on the Superbike, we know she is quick and a capable machine around here, so I'm happy with her. The Superstock session was cut short and we run out of time to change the gearing and get back out there, but our grid positions in general are not too bad and I know we can improve on Thursday. Yeah it's all good so far."

Philip Neill - Team Manager:

"It was a difficult day weather-wise to start the first international road race of the year, but both Guy and Josh coped really well. I think they both showed their class and pace and while other teams and riders struggled and have bigger concerns than us for Thursday - we just have to fine-tune some bits and pieces. I'm pleased that Josh settled in well on his first day of road racing and Guy also started positively. The Superstock session maybe didn't go exactly how we would have liked, but it was a short session and we still have Thursday morning to sort some bits and pieces before racing on Thursday night."

Supersport First Qualifying:

1 John McGuinness (Honda)
2 Bruce Anstey (Honda) +1.317sec
3 Guy Martin (Tyco Suzuki) +1.955
4 William Dunlop (Milwaukee Yamaha) +2.162
5 Stuart Easton (Yamaha) +3.225
6 Michael Dunlop (Honda) +3.813
7 James Hillier (Kawasaki) +6.207
8 Conor Cummins (Milwaukee Yamaha) +8.053
9 Cameron Donald (Honda) 8.964
10 Michael Sweeney (Yamaha) +11.248

Superbike First Qualifying:

1 Michael Dunlop (Honda)
2 Bruce Anstey (Honda) +7.615sec
3 Dean Harrison (Kawasaki) +9.712
4 Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) +10.407
5 William Dunlop (Milwaukee Yamaha) +10.592
6 Michael Rutter (Honda) +10.756
7 Cameron Donald (Honda) +12.249
8 John McGuinness (Honda) +14.842
9 Conor Cummins (Milwaukee Yamaha) +15.457
10 Ben Wylie (BMW) +18.086
*Guy Martin quickest Superbike lap: 4min:41.571
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