North West 200: Michael Rutter to start from pole position for Superbike races
Michael Rutter will start from pole position for Saturday’s Superbike races at the North West 200.
The 45 minute qualifying session was cut short with 21 minutes remaining after John McGuinness crashed his Honda Racing Fireblade at Primrose. The 23 times TT winner was taken to hospital with a suspected broken leg.
Thirteen times North West winner Rutter, who first raced at the seaside event in 1992, had already steered his Bathams/SMT BMW to a personal best Triangle circuit lap of 122.345mph before the red flags came out. His lap was 2.7 seconds faster than his best Tuesday time.
“I am really happy with that lap today.” the 45 year old said.
“There was a lot more grip today because the track was a lot cleaner than on Tuesday so I just went out and just tried to keep my head down and get a good lap in. When you do that around here you never know what will happen.”
The veteran Englishman finished 1.1 seconds faster than North West specialist, Alastair Seeley on the Tyco BMW. The Carrickfergus man’s lap of 121.811mph will see him start on the front row of the grid, sandwiched between Rutter and Glenn Irwin who was just half a second slower than Seeley on his Be Wiser/PBM Ducati.
“I am happy to be on the front row and I have no concerns for Saturday.” Seeley said.
“It will be all about getting a good launch off the line.”
Seeley had been just 1/900th of a second outside the outright lap record earlier in the day on his Superstock spec BMW as he took pole position in that class ahead of Rutter. Seeley has been faster on the stocker BMW than on his Superbike during both of this year’s practice sessions at Portrush.
“I got a clear road on the stocker and getting that during practice is a bit of a lottery.” the 35 year old explained.
The Carrick rider also claimed pole in the Supersport session on his Gearlink Kawasaki just 0.2 seconds faster than Lee Johnston (Jackson Racing Honda) with Michael Dunlop third quickest on the MD Racing Yamaha.
Glenn Irwin continues to impress on his first outing on a superbike at the North West. The 27 year old was faster than Michael Dunlop on his Bennett’s Suzuki but admitted he had made some mistakes during the session.
“I almost ended up in Barry’s Amusements twice when I messed up on the brakes at Metropole.” the Be Wiser/PBM Ducati rider laughed.
“I am happy but I want the bike to be more comfortable. We tried a new tyre today that made the handling too lazy. I’ve only done 11 laps so far so I need a little bit of luck on Saturday and I won’t be far away.”
Martin Jessopp topped the time sheets in the Supertwins class on the Riders Motorcycles Kawasaki ahead of Michael Rutter on a KMR Kawasaki.
FINAL QUALIFYING TIMES
Superbike combined practice
1. Michael Rutter Bathams /SMT Racing BMW 4 mins 23.943secs 122.345mph
2. Alastair Seeley Tyco BMW 4mins 25.100 secs 121.811mph
3. Glenn Irwin Be Wiser/PBM Ducati 4 mins 25.655secs 121.556mph
4. Michael Dunlop Bennett Suzuki 4mins 25.756 secs 121.510mph
5. Martin Jessop Riders Motorcycles BMW 4mins 26.192secs 121.311mph
Supertwin combined qualifying
Martin Jessop Riders Motorcycles Kawasaki 4 mins 55.64 secs 109.226mph
Michael Rutter KMR/IEG Kawasaki 4 mins 56.804 secs 108.799 mph
Daniel Cooper KW Electrical 4 mins 59.249 secs 107.910mph
Ivan Lintin Dafabet Devitt Racing 4mins 59.330secs 107.881mph
Lee Johnston KMR/AIr Ambulance Kawasaki 4mins 59.671secs 107.758mph
Supersport 600 combined qualifying
Alastair Seeley Gearlink Kawasaki 4mins 36.444secs 116.812mph
Lee Johnston Jackson Racing Honda 4mins 37.666secs 116.289mph
Michael Dunlop MD Racing Yamaha 4mins 38.978secs 115.751mph
Martin Jessop Riders Motorcycles Triumph 4mins 38.978secs 115.530mph
Dean Harrison Silicone Engineering Kawasaki 4mins 39.667secs 115.466mph
Superstock combined qualifying
Alastair Seeley Tyco BMW Motorrad 4 mins 22.104secs 123.203mph
Michael Rutter Bathams /SMT Racing BMW 4mins 26.634secs 122.025mph
Lee Johnston East Coast Construction BMW 4mins 25.173secs 121.777 mph
Ian Hutchinson Tyco BMW Motorrad 4mins 26.265secs 121.278mph
Dean Harrison Silicone Engineering Kawasaki 4mins 28.104secs 120.466mph