Steve Plater scored a scintillating hat trick in Saturday’s North West 200, taking the feature Superbike race for the third year in a row, in a day which saw some of the finest racing ever witnessed around the 8.9-mile road circuit.
Riding the AIM Yamaha’s, the Lincolnshire rider was keen to make amends for a disappointing fourth in the opening Superbike race although he was amazingly, only one second adrift of the race winner Michael Rutter (NW200 Ducati), Guy Martin (Hydrex Bike Animal Honda) and John McGuinness (HM Plant Honda) occupying the other two spots on the podium.
Plater bounced back in style, taking a thrilling first Supersport race from Alastair Seeley and Ian Lougher, a race that saw up to 12 riders battling for the lead at one stage.
The second Superbike race was another cracker although it looked like Martin had the race under control until he went out on the fourth lap.
Plater seized control but it was only an audacious overtaking manoeuvre at the Juniper chicane on the final lap that finally clinched him the win, Cameron Donald (Relentless Suzuki), Rutter, Bruce Anstey (Relentless Suzuki) and McGuinness following him home with the quintet separated by less than two seconds.
Plater made it three for the day in the final Supersport race, which was re-started after Martin crashed out at Black Hill, fortunately without injury. Another thrilling race saw Plater come home ahead of Seeley, once more, and Lougher.
Seeley’s moment came in the Superstock race that he took by just 0.535seconds from Anstey and Donald, the trio exchanging places with frequent regularity.
Meanwhile, the most popular result of the day was, without doubt, Michael Dunlop’s emotional victory in the 250cc race, the first race of the day.
Riding in memory of his father Robert, Michael was determined to win the race to pay his legendary Dad the greatest tribute and, after the lead exchanged on numerous occasions, the 20-year-old seized the advantage along the coast road to come home just 0.081seconds ahead of Christian Elkin with McGuinness back in third.
William Dunlop, who also made the decision to race at the last moment, went out on the warm-up lap with a mechanical problem.
Michael Wilcox took the 125cc race after 16 years of trying whilst Olie Linsdell took the 400cc race for the second successive year.
North West 200 Results
Race 1 Greenline 250cc:
1st Michael Dunlop (Honda); 2nd Christian Elkin (Honda); 3rd John McGuinness (Honda); 4th Paul Robinson (Honda); 5th Andrew Neill (Honda); 6th Davy Morgan (Honda)
Race 2 DeWalt Performance Tools Superbike
1st Michael Rutter (Ducati); 2nd Guy Martin (Honda); 3rd John McGuinness (Honda); 4th Steve Plater (Yamaha); 5th Gary Johnson (Honda); 6th Bruce Anstey (Suzuki)
Race 3 Club Soi, Portrush 600cc Supersport
1st Steve Plater (Yamaha); 2nd Alastair Seeley (Yamaha); 3rd Ian Lougher (Yamaha); 4th Ian Hutchinson (Yamaha); 5th Ryan Farquhar (Kawasaki); 6th Keith Amor (Honda)
Race 4a Autozone 125cc
1st Michael Wilcox (Honda); 2nd Chris Palmer (Honda); 3rd James Ford (Honda); 4th Mark Lunney (Honda); 5th Mark Curtin (Honda); 6th Graham Wilson (Honda)
Race 4b McKendry Fabrications Ltd 400cc
1st Olie Linsdell (Yamaha); 2nd Paul Dobbs (Yamaha); 3rd Les Shand (650 Kawasaki); 4th Joe Phillips (Kawasaki); 5th Johnny Barton (Yamaha); 6th Alan Brown (Honda)
Race 5 CP Hire Superstock
1st Alastair Seeley (Yamaha); 2nd Bruce Anstey (Suzuki); 3rd Cameron Donald (Suzuki); 4th Guy Martin (Honda); 5th Keith Amor (Honda); 6th Ryan Farquhar (Kawasaki)
Race 6 Black Horse North West 200 Superbike
1st Steve Plater (Yamaha); 2nd Cameron Donald (Suzuki); 3rd Michael Rutter (Ducati); 4th Bruce Anstey (Suzuki); 5th John McGuinness; 6th Gary Johnson (Honda)
Race 7 Ballymoney Borough Council 600cc Supersport
1st Steve Plater (Yamaha); 2nd Alastair Seeley (Yamaha); 3rd Ian Lougher (Yamaha); 4th Steve Brogan (Honda) 5th Keith Amor (Honda); 6th Gary Johnson (Honda)