North West 200: Glenn Irwin extends unbeaten Superbike streak to six races with 2022 double
Glenn Irwin’s dominance of the Superbike class at the North West 200 continued on Saturday as he won both races onboard his official Honda Fireblade.
The results mean that Irwin has now won the last six Superbike races to be held on the Triangle Circuit, and he has done so with three different manufacturers – Ducati, Kawasaki and Honda.
“Job done,” Irwin said. “When I came here, I’d had success before at the North West 200, but to come here with Honda was something else and we arrived at a time where my BSB career has taken a huge step forward, so we arrived probably with me riding the best I have ever ridden. You do put pressure on yourself, you’ve won here before and you feel like you can do it again, but it never works like that, you have to fight for it, and you can’t be complacent.
“Fair play to my team, today has just been a dream! We came here to win the big ones and the level here is so high, so to win both the Superbike races this year and lead that calibre of field is such a good feeling.”
Irwin was pushed all of the way in the opening race by Davey Todd on his Milenco by Padgett’s Motorcycles Fireblade. Irwin led from the start of the race but was unable to escape the clutches of Todd, who took the lead of the race on lap three after a move at York Corner, only to be overtaken by Irwin Ballysally Roundabout.
The pair exchanged positions again before the end of the lap, with Richard Cooper catching them after setting a new lap record of 123.874mph. Irwin returned to the front on lap four after upping the lap record to 124.463mph.
Todd dived down the inside of Irwin at Magherabuoy on the final lap, only to run wide at Metropole, allowed Irwin through to take victory by 0.253s.
Cooper joined them on the podium, whilst Josh Brookes finished fourth on the MCE Ducati V4 R. Alastair Seeley completed the top five ahead of Conor Cummins, James Hillier and Michael Rutter. Ian Hutchinson and Nathan Harrison completed the top 10.
Chaos ensued prior to the start of the feature Superbike race with all riders using Dunlop Tyres (24 riders) withdrawing from the race on safety grounds. It was revealed that Dunlop had found an issue with a batch of their Superbike tyres. Images were circulated online of shredded tyres in the earlier Superbike race, whilst video footage emerged of Michael Dunlop’s rear tyre coming apart at speed on the Coast Road.
As a result, only those using Metzeler Tyres took part. Todd, Peter Hickman, Brian McCormack, Lee Johnston, Dunlop, Cummins and Dean Harrison were just some of the names missing from race two.
Irwin started from pole once again and with his main challenger unable to race, crossed the line with a comfortable 2.494s lead over Cooper. Brookes completed the podium on his Ducati, with Hutchinson and John McGuinness completing the top five.
Hillier was sixth ahead of Rutter, Phillip Crowe, Craig Neve and Lukas Maurer completing the top 10.
“I want to thank everyone who has helped and supported me along the way, the team, Honda UK, my family, my friends and all my sponsors, as well as the North West 200 organisers, its sponsors the marshals and everyone behind the scenes who makes the event happen, and of course the supporters,” Irwin added. “The last lap of the feature Superbike race was incredible; it was so overwhelming with the support out there along the course.”
North West 200: Alastair Seeley masters wet conditions to win opening Supersport and Superstock races
First published: 13 May 2021 by Josh Close
Alastair Seeley has extended his record number of wins at the North West 200 to 26 after winning the opening Supersport and Superstock races.
Both races were run in tricky conditions following heavy rainfall at the 8.9-mile Triangle Circuit, with the Supertwins race being called off for safety reasons.
The original Supersport race was red flagged due to an incident at Magherabouy Chicane which left debris on the circuit. Thankfully, the rider involved was reported to be uninjured. At the restart, Davey Todd made the best start to the four-lap race, however it was Seeley who led over the line after making his move at the final chicane.
Seeley and Todd would continue to exchange places throughout the race, with the race-winning move coming at the Juniper Chicane on lap three. Todd attempted to defend his position from Seeley on the outside, but the former then had to slow down to avoid touching the wet grass.
Seeley chequered the victory, his 13th in the Supersport class, with an advantage of 1.9s over Todd, with 58-year-old Jeremy McWilliams taking a stunning third on his Burrows/RK Racing Yamaha. Adam McLean was fourth despite running across the grass at the start of the final lap, whilst Conor Cummins completed the top five.
Dean Harrison and James Hillier were sixth and seventh respectively, with Matthew Rees, Joe Loughin and Pierre Yves Bian rounding out the top 10. Michael Dunlop retired whilst running in sixth.
“I won nothing in 2019 but now that monkey is off my back,” Seeley said. “Flipping hell, you couldn’t have any worse conditions. It was cold, wet and freezing but fair play to the IFS boys as they gave me a good Yamaha.
“I didn’t think I had the legs on Davey as he was stronger towards University, but heading to Portrush we had a little bit more and I think experience showed.”
The rain got heavier prior to the Superstock race, with 27 riders opting not to take part. Amongst those who decided not to race was Honda Racing UK duo Glenn Irwin and John McGuinness, as well as Dunlop, Hillier and Lee Johnston.
Seeley made the best start and overcame an early attack from Todd to ultimately dominate the race and take the chequered flag with a 12.864s lead over the Milenco Padgett’s Honda rider. Richard Cooper completed the podium, whilst Cummins held off Michael Rutter to take fourth.
Marty Lennon and Carl Phillips were sixth and seventh respectively, ahead of Ian Hutchinson. Isle of Man TT favourites Peter Hickman and Dean Harrison both retired from the race.
“It was like a winter’s day out there,” Seeley explained. “It was slippy, wet and cold and there wasn’t a lot of grip. I had a few slides and a few moments because the bike was spinning in sixth gear. I was searching for grip everywhere and it was nice to see the gap on the board creeping up. Seeing ‘Plus 8’ on the last lap smoothed everything out and I just brought her home.”
Five races are scheduled for Saturday at the North West 200, including both Superbike races.