North West 200: Cooper, Irwin, Todd Win

North West 200: Cooper, Irwin, Todd Win

© 2024, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. From a press release issued By North West 200 Press Office:

GLENN IRWIN EQUALS SUPERBIKE VICTORY RECORD AT OPENING NIGHT OF ACTION AT BRIGGS EQUIPMENT 2024 NORTH WEST 200

 

Thursday night at the Briggs Equipment North West 200 saw record breaking performances and fantastic racing as Glenn Irwin, Richard Cooper and Davey Todd took the honours in the Briggs Equipment Superbike, Fraser Homes Supersport and Amici Ristorante Superstock races respectively.

After a day of qualifying in sunshine the sky clouded over for the opening Superbike encounter which produced a stunning start to finish battle between Glen Irwin on the PBM Hager Ducati and Davey Todd’s Milwaukee BMW. The pair were separated by just a few inches throughout the four laps despite Irwin setting a new outright lap record at 125.799mph on the second lap.

Trailing Todd on to the coast road on the final lap, Irwin snatched the lead at Juniper chicane to claim victory by 2.545 seconds and equal the record of nine NW200 Superbike race wins held by Michael Rutter and the late Joey Dunlop.

“That is the hardest I have ever had to ride to win around here,” Irwin told Todd as they embraced in the winner’s enclosure. “It was a fun race but it wasn’t that much fun when I was riding behind Davey. He is riding so good but he was on the limit on some of the scary parts of the track. To win we had to go to his level. Where he’s strong he’s really strong and I had to work hard to win that.”

 

Glenn Irwin celebrates with his Hager PBM Ducati team. Photo courtesy NW200 Press Office.
Glenn Irwin celebrates with his Hager PBM Ducati team. Photo courtesy NW200 Press Office.

 

Todd was philosophical about losing such a close battle.

“I made a bit of a silly judgement at the end but the bike is an absolute weapon.” he admitted. “I thought I had it worked out as I felt I knew where Glenn was strong and I could have got him at Juniper on the last lap but I made the wrong decision, going to the outside instead of the inside. I’ve just got to try a little harder next time.”

Irwin was delighted to equal the North West 200 Superbike record with nine consecutive victories in the class.

“It’s an amazing achievement to win nine races in a row and although some people ride harder than me here, I can find a way to win.” he said. “And no one else [has] the mindset I have.”

Local favourite, Michael Dunlop claimed the final rostrum spot on what would be an evening of three third place finishes for the Ballymoney man.

“The bike arrived so late and I’ve a few issues from the Cookstown crash, so to finish third isn’t bad,” Michael Dunlop said as he trailed in 14.241 seconds behind Todd on his MD Racing Honda. “I lost the tow at the beginning and that was that. I needed to go with them straightaway as I knew Glenn and Davey would be running a hot pace. Dean and Pete were making a few moves on me but there were no surprises and when it’s two riders you know well and are used to battling with, you know what you’re working with.”

Richard Cooper had vowed to win four races at this year’s NW200 before the racing began and the Nottingham rider started as he intends to go on with victory in the Fraser Homes Supersport race on the BPE Russell Racing Yamaha ahead of Peter Hickman (Trooper Beer Triumph) and Michael Dunlop (MD Racing Triumph). But the race was marked by a crash at York corner on the opening lap when Adam McLean ran out of brakes and crashed, taking out Davey Todd.

 

Richard Cooper. Photo courtesy NW200 Press Office.
Richard Cooper. Photo courtesy NW200 Press Office.

 

Avoiding the melee, Cooper led Dunlop by 1.2 seconds at the end of lap one with Hickman a further 0.5 sec behind. Cooper’s lead extended to 1.9 seconds on lap two with Hickman still less than a second back on the Ballymoney rider. Cooper continued to open the gap on his pursuers over the final two circuits, taking the chequered flag by 6.537 seconds, but it was Hickman who claimed the runner-up spot after passing Dunlop at Metropole on the final lap.

“I made a bit of a poor start which worked in my favour as it allowed me to watch the drama unfold in front of me at York Corner,” Cooper said as he savoured the victor’s champagne. “Davey looked like he was going to nail the apex but he got wiped out by Adam who came in hot. I nipped through and you take these things when they come your way. I had no pit boards so had no idea how big the lead was but there’s more in the tank if needed.”

Hickman, who arrived at Portrush battered and bruised after three big crashes at last weekend’s Oulton Park BSB meeting, was delighted to pip Dunlop for the runner-up slot.

“It always takes me a while to get going on the Supersport bike, but once I did, I was able to close in on Michael,” he said. “I didn’t want to show my hand too early and passing him at Metropole on the final lap was always the plan. He was really strong out of the Magherabuoy chicane though so it made it that little bit harder but I managed to get it done.”

“I knew Pete was there as I could hear him, so I knew he’d have a bit of a lunge,” a disappointed Dunlop admitted. “He kept it tight at the chicane and braked late so it wasn’t rocket science to realise there was no room for me. We’ve had a few challenges with the bike, but it was pretty equal with Pete’s.”

A determined Davey Todd brushed off his aches and pains to take his place in pole position for the start of the Amici Ristorante Superstock race. Gritting his teeth he led the four lapper from start to finish, winning from Honda Racing’s Dean Harrison with Michael Dunlop once again completing the rostrum.

 

Davey Todd. Photo courtesy NW200 Press Office.
Davey Todd. Photo courtesy NW200 Press Office.

 

“To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was going to ride after the Supersport crash,” Todd explained. “I’m a little bit sore but I didn’t come here to sit on the sidelines so I said to the team ‘I’ll go out and give it a go and see how I feel’. The team have done an awesome job and I’m so happy where I am right now. It’s nice to get a big bike win at last and it means a lot especially after the crash. A lot was going through my mind sitting by the track, wondering if I was going to be able to ride again this weekend. We managed to do that but I’ll be sore tomorrow!”

“I was sitting half a second behind Davey and felt quite comfortable so was ready to have a go on the last lap, but the bike got quite unsettled on the way into Mather’s Cross so I had to run straight on,” Yorkshireman Harrison explained as he trailed in second, 6.971 seconds behind Todd. “I wasn’t sure if anyone was close behind as I had no pit boards, so I re-joined as quick as I could and got going again. The bike was working really well and to get that close to Davey, who’s riding the Superstock bike regularly, is very pleasing. I wanted to get a podium for the team and everyone’s working so hard.”

Dunlop finished 1.9 seconds further back on his MD Racing Honda.

“With three thirds it’s been a steady day,” the Ballymoney man said. “The injury I’m carrying isn’t a practical one, but I’m not here to cry about it and it’s not an excuse, but it’s stopping me getting the most from either myself or the bike. We kept chipping away though and we’ve constantly made strides forward and the main thing today was staying out of trouble. The last thing I wanted was to get caught up in something I didn’t want to!”

Race fans will have another opportunity to meet their North West 200 road racing heroes on Friday at the Causeway Coast and Glens Council’s Meet the Riders event in Coleraine town centre at 2pm.

The race action will resume on Saturday morning after roads close at 9am followed by a six-race programme that begins at 10 am with the Milltown Service Station Supertwins race over four laps followed by the Anchor Bar Superbike race (6 laps), Tides Restaurant Supersport race (6 laps), CP Hire Superstock race (6 laps), John M Paterson Supertwins Race (4 laps) and the Merrow Hotel and Spa Superbike race (6 laps).

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