North West 200: Pole means nothing to Dunlop as he targets Super double
The final qualifying for tomorrow’s Relentless North West 200 came to a premature end when eight-times winner at the event Steve Plater crashed heavily at Quarry Hill approaching the final bend during the closing Superbike session.
Plater, who had been on provisional pole position for the two Superbike races, lost control of his HM Plant Honda on his second lap ploughing into safety bales and trackside fencing.
He was taken to Causeway Hospital and then to the Royal Victoria and it was later confirmed that he had broken his arm in two places.
In the Superbike session Keith Amor set the fastest time at 117.186mph just ahead of Conor Cummins, Guy Martin and Michael Rutter, who rides a BMW instead of his usual Ducati Superbike, which has had mechanical difficulties all week.
Earlier in the day Michael Dunlop repeated his feat of last year when he recorded the fastest time in the Supersport class setting a speed of 114.602mph, seven-tenths of a second ahead of ‘Flying Scot’ Keith Amor, to put the Street Sweep Yamaha firmly on pole position for tomorrow's two races.
In what was a hotly contested session a split second separated Amor, Plater and Ian Hutchinson, who heads the second row half a second ahead of Padgetts Honda team-mate John McGuinness, all five lapping faster than Tuesday evening’s qualifying despite intermittent showers falling on parts of the course.
Sixth fastest rider yesterday was Alastair Seeley, however, he couldn’t better William Dunlop’s time from Tuesday and finds himself back in eighth on the grid behind Bruce Anstey, fastest on Tuesday and William.
Michael Dunlop, who followed Plater around on his final lap said: “We’ll just have to try and finish the job come Saturday. Pole position doesn’t win the race.
“The bike was running well and we’ll be giving it our best shot. I just have to win either a Super
sport or Superbike race, that’s the pressure I put myself under. I want to beat the better-funded and better-equipped teams; that is what drives me on. Second is the first loser as my dad used to say.”
Conor Cummins recorded his first ever pole position at the North West 200 when he set the fastest time in qualifying riding the McAdoo Kawasaki.
Cummins, from the Isle of Man, had been in third position in the early stages of the session behind pace setters Amor and Plater, but in the closing stages he powered the McAdoo machine to top spot with a speed of 117.149mph.
Completing the front row is Ryan Farquhar (pictured), who produced a late surge to snatch second from Amor, having his first outing of the season riding a BMW.
Farquhar said: “I’m happy with that although I think I could have gone faster but for a wet track in the last couple of laps approaching Metropole.”
Going for his third Superstock race win in a row on Saturday, Seeley heads the second row after putting in a late burst on the Relentless Suzuki by TAS. Padgetts Honda rider Hutchinson is on the second row of the grid, where he should have been joined by Plater.
Guy Martin slid out of the action at the final bend quickly picking the Wilson Craig Honda up and wheeling it back to pit lane for repairs.
In a damp 125cc session Paul Robinson was the fastest man on track at 96.260mph, some 11.5 seconds faster than the opposition, but his time did not better William Dunlop’s pole setting time from Tuesday evening. Dunlop didn’t take to the track in yesterday’s session.