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North West 200: Derek McGee confident of success despite bike problems

By Roy Harris

Derek McGee was unlucky last night when he was unable to start the Supertwin race at the Vauxhall International North West 200, having been fastest on Tuesday and starting from the second row of the grid after problems yesterday morning with his IEG KMR Kawasaki.

The Mullingar man, who has had a terrific start to the national road race season, said: “It’s only my second time here in three years, so I had to relearn my braking points again with the changes from the last time I rode here.

“I had a bit of a problem in qualifying this morning with the Supertwin and to be honest we won’t know until we set off on the warm-up lap whether we have it sorted or not.”

A triple Irish road race champion in 2017, McGee was coming into the North West off the back of two wins, a second and a third at the Tandragee 100 and he finished a creditable 10th in last night’s Superstock race, the first regular national rider home against the tough competition.

“I had a good run-out in that race and I’m pretty happy with that result and look forward to Saturday’s races with a bit of confidence and maybe we’ll just get the Supertwin sorted for the second race,” he added.

Meanwhile Manxman Dan Kneen didn’t have a great start to his North West 200 when he finished 10th in the opening Supersport race, having been involved in the first lap chaos at Mill Road Roundabout.

 Leader Martin Jessopp went in too hot, hit the bales and tipped off in front of the chasing pack with some going the proper racing way around the roundabout and half the first group forced to take the wrong side of the roundabout, with somehow only two incurring penalties.

Kneen, as he lined up for the Superstock race, said: “I got caught up in the melee at Mill Road on the opening lap and basically had to stop the Jackson Racing Honda and by the time I got going the rest had gone.”

Unfortunately for Kneen, this time Tyco BMW mounted, his luck wasn’t to be any better as he fell foul of the same rule at Mathers Chicane, incurring a 10-second penalty for going straight on without stopping and putting his foot down.

He wasn’t the only one, as Gary Johnson and Sam Johnson also got the same penalty as Kneen, who eventually retired from the race on the fourth lap of six.

Certainly, the Bradden rider will be looking for a change of fortune tomorrow when he contests both Superbike races and Superstock for Tyco BMW and will be out again in Supersport on the Jackson machine.

Meanwhile, the returning Ian Hutchinson was satisfied with 10th in the final Superbike session with Honda team-mate Lee Johnston 13th aboard the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2.

“We’re chipping away, we’ve got some work to do ahead of the races, but it’s all about bike time for me. We’ve been working on various settings,” said Hutchy, who is returning from injury.

Belfast Telegraph

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