Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Rain puts skids on final North West 200 practice

Michael Rutter and John McGuinness warm up for the North West 200 races

The final practice session for tomorrow’s Kennedy Group International North West 200 was abandoned last night when heavy rain left the track in a treacherous condition.

Prior to the abandonment, tricky conditions meant slower times for the competitors with only the 250cc riders bettering their Tuesday evening times as they got the best of the conditions before the rain arrived.

Relentless Suzuki TAS rider Alastair Seeley, out on his superstock machine, described the conditions as, “iffy in the University and Ballysally sections of the course,” with tyre choice for the 200bhp superbike machines a gamble.

With no-one getting near Tuesday evening times, the front row for Saturday’s showpiece superbike races sees Relentless Suzuki rider Bruce Anstey on pole ahead of John McGuinness (HM Plant Honda) and Alastair Seeley with his superstock time relegating Keith Amor to fourth ahead of Steve Plater and Aussie Cameron Donald.

Last night’s heavy rain saw times tumble with leading riders opting for precautionary laps with Guy Martin setting the fastest superbike lap of the evening at a speed of 116.934mph just ahead of Ian Hutchinson (116.828mph) and Denver Robb (116.225mph).

Race favourites Cameron Donald, Bruce Anstey, Steve Plater, Ian Lougher and John McGuinness were all outside the top fifteen, just using the session as a warm-up for the main event on Saturday.

The 250cc and 125cc practice was the only session to get dry roads last night with light rain hitting the circuit halfway through the session.

Prior to the rain dampening the circuit Broughshane-based Englishman Christian Elkin, the 2007 250cc race winner, bettered his Tuesday evening time by some six seconds to claim pole position for tomorrow’s race with a speed of 108.806mph.

Michael Dunlop will be right beside Elkin on the grid despite problems last night, with his 106.628mph lap from Tuesday good enough for second on the grid.

Denver Robb, who had not completed a lap on Tuesday evening, had better fortune last night and starts from third on the grid ahead of John McGuinness, Phil Harvey and Mark Lunney.

In the 125cc class William Dunlop was fastest last night at 100.253mph, but has to settle for second on the grid 1.2secs behind David Lemon whose speed of 100.630mph from Tuesday evening remained the fastest in the class.

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