North West 200: Irwin Breaks Lap Record In Superbike Q1

North West 200: Irwin Breaks Lap Record In Superbike Q1

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

GLENN IRWIN LAPS FASTER THAN THE EXISTING OUTRIGHT LAP RECORD TO CLAIM PROVISIONAL SUPERBIKE POLE ON FIRST DAY OF QUALIFYING AT THE 2024 BRIGGS EQUIPMENT NORTH WEST 200.

 

Glenn Irwin dipped under the official lap record on a day of glorious sunshine on the north coast to claim [provisional] pole position in the Superbike class after the opening qualifying session of the Briggs Equipment North West 200. The Carrickfergus rider, who is bidding to become the most successful Superbike rider at the north coast event, posted a speed of 124.895mph on the Hager PBM Ducati, 0.2 seconds quicker than Peter Hickman’s official lap record speed of 124.799mph.

“Track conditions were so good out there and the grip levels were surprisingly good too,” said Irwin, who arrived on the north coast fresh from completing a BSB Superbike hat-trick at Oulton Park on Monday.

“We made a change during the session and went the wrong way, but it is still nice to do an unofficial lap record for the fans. This is the best first day I’ve had at the North West and the Ducati is going in a straight line which is great, but I still think the Superbike races will be real dogfights.”

The Superbike session followed the Newcomer’s opening practice as 27 riders took to the 8.9-mile Triangle Course for the first time. The big names were immediately on the pace and made their presence felt during the hour-long qualifying with Davey Todd posting the second-quickest time on his Milwaukee BMW, 1.357 seconds slower than Irwin. Michael Dunlop was third-fastest, 4.261 seconds further back on his new Honda superbike. Peter Hickman (PHR Performance BMW) and Dean Harrison (Honda Racing) set the fourth- and fifth-best marks on their Superstock-spec machines with Ian Hutchinson completing the top six on the Milenco Padgett’s Honda during his comeback ride following illness.

John McGuinness (Honda Racing), who was sporting a special helmet celebrating his 30 years of racing at the North West, James Hillier (WTF Honda), Finland Erno Kostamo (Penz13.com BMW) and Conor Cummins (Milenco Padgetts Honda) completed the top ten quickest times.

Next up were the Supersport machines and Richard Cooper indicated his hopes of winning both Supersport races at this year’s NW200 are well founded as he claimed provisional pole on the Russell Racing/BPE Yamaha. The 41-year-old was 0.815 seconds faster than Davey Todd on the Powermate Tools Ducati with Michael Dunlop 4.6 seconds slower than Todd on his MD Racing Triumph.

“There were no issues and things went exactly the way I hoped they would during that session,” Cooper said, before indicating he felt he would be up against it in trying to beat Todd’s Ducati.

“I reeled off nearly race distance and used the same tyres through the whole session. But I also had a very good look at the opposition and although I am mentioning no names, I know it is going to be difficult to win when there is a clear difference in cc’s and that difference is not to my advantage.”

Cooper’s Russell Racing/BPE Yamaha teammate, Mike Browne, was fourth-fastest in the class with Peter Hickman (Trooper Beer Triumph) and Paul Jordan (Jackson Racing Honda) completing the leaderboard. 

The winner of Monday’s British championship Superstock race at Oulton, Davey Todd produced another strong performance during the Stocker qualifying session to top the timesheets on the Milwaukee Tools BMW.

“I just wanted to be comfortable out there today and to make sure the bikes were running alright,” the Saltburn by the Sea rider said, smiling after lapping just 1.5 seconds slower than Alastair Seeley’s lap record in the class. “The weather has been great, but I can’t believe the lap times. It is really exciting that we are running near lap record pace on day one. We couldn’t wish for anything better. But we had done the work before we came here. The bikes are awesome because the guys in the team have done a fantastic job. They know this place inside out having won here so many times and I hope I can add some more to that tally. We had a few little problems with the superbike but we have those ironed out and hopefully we can challenge Glenn at the front on the big bike now.”

Dean Harrison was just half a second slower than Todd on the Honda Racing Fireblade as a chronic lack of parts has forced the team to park their Superbike and Supersport-spec machines and confine their racing at Portrush to the Stocker class.

Michael Dunlop was third fastest on his MD Racing Fireblade with Peter Hickman, who also isn’t riding a Superbike-spec machine at this year’s North West, over a second slower than the Ballymoney rider.

Jeremy McWilliams posted the quickest time during the first laps of the Supertwins session on the IFS Bayview Paton before the opening day of action at this year’s NW200 came to a premature end when a crash at Mill road roundabout brought out the red flags. With the roads due to re-open at 3pm the session was brought to a close leaving McWilliams frustrated.

“We aren’t even in the ball park yet with set-up.” the 60-year-old said. “The bike does feel strong but the chassis doesn’t feel like the bike I rode here last year and we need more time.”

Qualifying resumes on Thursday morning with roads closing at 9am.  They will re-open at 3pm before closing again at 4.45pm as three races are set to run during the evening.

The opening event, the Briggs Equipment Superbike race will be the first superbike race to run at the north coast meeting during the Thursday evening programme. It is scheduled to begin at 5.30pm followed by the Fraser Homes Supersport and the Amici Restaurant Superstock races. All three races will be run over four laps.  

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