Belfast Telegraph

Monday 24 November 2014

North West 200: Pole means nothing to Dunlop as he targets Super double

Michael Dunlop pictured at the second practice on the North coast circuit at the Relentless International North West 2010
Michael Dunlop pictured at the second practice on the North coast circuit at the Relentless International North West 2010
William Dunlop (CD Racing Yamaha) in action during Thursday's practice for the Relentless North West 200
Michael Dunlop pictured in the grid area
Steve Plater races around Metropole before crashing on his final lap during practice ahead of this weekend's North West 200
Keith Amor pictured at the second practice on the North coast circuit at the Relentless International North West 2010
Steve Plater crashes out of the the second practice session on his HM Plant Honda at the Relentless North West 200
Steve Plater's father Trevor looks on as medics treat his son after he crashed at Quarry Hill during yesterday's practice for the Relentless North West 200
HM Plant team boss Havier Beltram and the team PR Fiona Cole llok on as medics carry Steve Plater away on a stretcher after he crashed at Quarry Hill during yesterday's practice for the Relentless North West 200
Lucky escape: Guy Martin takes a tumble during today's NW 200 practice
Steve Plater setting the fastest time during Tuesday night's practice session at the Relentless North West 200
Steve Plater had good reason to smile after he led the way in the Superbikes practice
Cameron Donald pictured at the opening practice night of the 2010 Relentless North West 200
Superbike rider John McGuinness pictured at the opening practice night of the 2010 Relentless North West 200
Superbike rider Ian Lougher pictured at the opening practice night of the Relentless North West 200
Superbike rider Michael Dunlop pictured at the opening practice night of the 2010 Relentless North West 200
Superbike rider Cameron Donald
Superbike rider Bruce Anstey pictured at the opening practice night at the Relentless North West 200
William Dunlop pictured at the opening practice night of the 2010 Relentless North West 200
Superbike rider Stuart Easton pictured at the opening practice night of the 2010 Relentless North West 200
Superbike rider Stuart Easton pictured at the opening practice night of the 2010 Relentless North West 200
600cc rider William Dunlop pictured at the opening practice night of the 2010 Relentless North West 200
William Dunlop during Tuesday's 125 practice session at the Relentless North West 200
Ryan Farquhar took time out from his North West preparation for this family photo-shoot with wife Karen and children Keeley and Mya, by leading portrait photographer Francis Meaney whose Venture studio will be exhibiting at the race paddock during Race Week Festival
Darren Gilpin emerges from a humble background to rub shoulders with giants of the motorcycle world at the North West 200
Ballymena's Darren Gilpin pictured at the Relentless International North West 2010

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.

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