Cool William Dunlop impresses new employers Tyco Suzuki
If William Dunlop was nervous about making his bow at the North West 200 for Tyco Suzuki he certainly didn't show it yesterday.
The three-time winner set the pace with a speed of 114.754mph on his sixth of seven laps in the Supersport practice.
Before a wheel was turned in anger Dunlop had warned that his new partnership with his the high profile team had brought its own pressure.
"Tyco Suzuki is a top team with lots of experience and success at Portrush, so I'll have no excuses if things don't go well," he said.
Well it looks like team boss Phillip Neill and co can rest easy.
After the first qualifying sessions yesterday William was in a buoyant mood after topping the Supersport session, finishing fourth in the Superbike practice and seventh in Superstock.
"It was a pretty good day for me and I'm well pleased with Supersport and Superbike," he said.
"I was actually a wee bit worried that the 600 would down on speed, however to my surprise I ended up fastest and I did that quick time on my own.
"At one stage I tagged onto another very fast 600 and my bike was a match for it."
Over a second behind William came Rutter having his first ride on a Smiths Triumph with Alastair Seeley on his Mar-Train Yamaha less than a tenth of a second behind Rutter.
Alistair Seeley only completed four laps before touring into the pits.
"I heard a wee noise that just didn't sound right and it was better to be safe than sorry," said the Carrickfergus rider.
Three different makes of machine locked out the front row and it was a similar tale on row two with Lee Johnston (Honda), Gary Johnson (Triumph) and Guy Martin (Suzuki) a second apart.
John McGuinness, Michael Dunlop and Josh Brookes, having his first Supersport outing for quite some time were the next three fastest riders.
In this session Ian Hutchinson, making his return following his well catalogued leg injuries, suffered a nasty high side exiting Mill Road Roundabout and was taken to hospital for observation.
However the Yorkshireman wasn't to be deterred and returned to the circuit later and despite his discomfort completed two laps on his Milwaukee Yamaha Superbike during the Superstock session.