Belfast Telegraph

North West 200: Michael Dunlop on the move in emotional return

Dunlop just half second behind NW Superbike leader Harrison in storming comeback

2019 fonaCAB International North West 200 competitor Dean Harrison (Silicone Kawasaki) goes close to the kerbs during the opening Superbike practice session today (Pic: Stephen Davison)
2019 fonaCAB International North West 200 competitor Dean Harrison (Silicone Kawasaki) goes close to the kerbs during the opening Superbike practice session today (Pic: Stephen Davison)
Dean Harrison at Black Hill during today's superbike practice session at the Fona Cab International NW200 in Co Antrim (David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press)
2019 fonaCAB International North West 200 competitor Glenn Irwin (Quattro Plant Kawasaki) before the opening Superbike practice session today (Pic: Stephen Davison)
2019 fonaCAB International North West 200 competitor John McGuinness (Norton) before the opening Superbike practice session today (Pic: Stephen Davison)
Michael Dunlop (MD Racing BMW) in today's practice session (Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press)
2019 fonaCAB International North West 200 in association with Nicholl Oils competitor Horst Saiger (Saiger Yamaha) before the start of the opening Supersport practice session today (Pic: Stephen Davison)
2019 fonaCAB International North West 200 in association with Nicholl Oils Event Director, Mervyn Whyte and Clerk of the Course, Stanleigh Murray before the opening session of practice today (Pic: Stephen Davison)
2019 fonaCAB International North West 200 in association with Nicholl Oils competitors Alastair Seeley (EHA Yamaha) before the start of the opening Supersport practice session today (Pic: Stephen Davison)
2019 fonaCAB International North West 200 in association with Nicholl Oils competitor Dean Harrison (Silicone Kawasaki) before the start of the opening Supersport practice session today (Pic: Stephen Davison)
2019 fonaCAB International North West 200 in association with Nicholl Oils competitors David Johnson and Ian Hutchinson open the Honda Racing CBR600RRs await the start of the opening Supersport practice session today (Pic: Steven Davison)
2019 fonaCAB International North West 200 competitor Alastair Seeley (PBM/Be Wiser Ducati) with team boss Paul Bird before the opening Superbike practice session today (Pic: Stephen Davison)
2019 fonaCAB International North West 200 in association with Nicholl Oils competitor Lee Johnson (Ashcourt Racing Yamaha) before the start of the opening Supersport practice session today (Pic: Stephen Davison)
2019 fonaCAB International North West 200 in association with Nicholl Oils competitor James Hillier (Quattro Plant Kawasaki) grabs a drink before the start of the opening Supersport practice session today (Pic: Stephen Davison)
2019 fonaCAB International North West 200 in association with Nicholl Oils competitor Davey Todd (Milenco Padgett's Honda) before the start of the opening Supersport practice session today (Pic: Stephen Davison)
2019 fonaCAB International North West 200 in association with Nicholl Oils competitor Christian Elkin before the start of the opening Supersport practice session today (Pic: Stephen Davison)
2019 fonaCAB International North West 200 in association with Nicholl Oils US newcomer Patricia Fernandez (Magic Bullet Yamaha) before the opening session of practice today (Pic: Stephen Davison)
2019 fonaCAB International North West 200 in association with Nicholl Oils competitor Conor Cummins (Milenco Padgett's Honda) before the opening Supersport practice session today (Pic: Stephen Davison)
2019 fonaCAB International North West 200 in association with Nicholl Oils competitors Alastair Seeley (EHA Yamaha), James Hillier (Quattro Plant Kawasaki) and Lee Johnston (Ashcourt Racing Yamaha) await the start of the opening Supersport practice session today (Pic: Stephen Davison)
2019 fonaCAB International North West 200 in association with Nicholl Oils competitor Ian Hutchinson (Honda Racing) chats with Clive Padgett before the start of the opening Supersport practice session today (Pic: Stephen Davison)
2019 fonaCAB International North West 200 in association with Nicholl Oils newcomer Richard Cooper (Bennetts Buildbase Suzuki) gets some last minute words of advice from Rider Liaison officer Steve Plater before the opening session of practice today (Pic: Stephen Davison)

By Roy Harris

Local hero Michael Dunlop yesterday made an emotional and spectacular return to road racing for the first time since the tragic death of his brother William last summer.

Despite his 10-month personal time out, following the loss of William in a Skerries 100 accident last July, Michael looked sharp in opening practice at his home North West 200, finishing a mere 0.531 seconds behind the leading rider in the main Superbike class, Yorkshireman Dean Harrison on his Silicone Kawsaki ZX10RR.

Sundrenched crowds roared on Ballymoney favourite Dunlop on his Tyco BMW S1000RR, with high hopes of seeing him go one better in Saturday’s Superbike races. He is also well-placed in the Supersport and Superstock classes.       

North West wins record holder Alastair Seeley looks set to add to his 24 victories after topping the times in Supersport qualifying on the EHA Yamaha, 0.182secs ahead of Fermanagh’s Lee Johnston on the Ashcourt Racing Yamaha.

The world’s fastest road racer Peter Hickman claimed provisional pole in the Superstock class on the Smith’s Racing BMW, while Jamie Coward was the surprise package of the day, topping the timesheets in the Supertwin class on the KTS Racing Kawasaki ER6.

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