Super glory so sweet for Michael Dunlop
Michael Dunlop, from what he himself would describe as a poor 2015, bounced back to his best form at Saturday’s North West 200 by winning a record-breaking Anchor Complex Superbike race — the one that all the top riders are so eager to win.
Dunlop smashed Josh Brookes’ 2014 outright lap record by half a second, the speed now 123.207mph, the only rider on the day to go over the 123mph mark.
In this particular race, Kiwi Bruce Anstey became the fastest man ever through the speed trap on the way from Station Corner and University when he broke the beam at an astonishing 209.8mph on the Valvoline Padgetts Honda.
Unfortunately for Anstey, he crashed out of the race uninjured at Church Corner on the same lap bringing out the red flags after the leaders had completed their fourth lap.
The Dunlop-Hawk BMW combination looked superb as he flew to a five-second victory over Ian Hutchinson.
Following his victory, Dunlop was in his usual bullish mood. He said: “The big win for the big dog. I must thank Steve (Hicken) and his team, who have worked their butts off to give me a good package. It wasn’t that easy a race to win, but once in front I pulled the pin and knew I had a bit in hand if anybody came with me.
“The next stop is the TT and if the Hawk BMW performs as well there as it did around here, we’ll be in with a shout of the big wins. I was half a second inside the lap record with a bit to spare — it shows we are quick enough. It is great to get another big bike win around here and it coming on the Superbike makes it all the sweeter.”
The awaited duel between the BMWs of Dunlop and Alastair Seeley (they were only separated by 0.017 seconds in qualifying) never materialised as the Carrickfergus rider was forced to take the slip road at University Corner on the opening lap.
He ended up in 17th position before blasting his way through the field with a series of scorching laps to finish in eighth on his Briggs Equipment Lee Hardy RAF Reserve BMW, setting the second fastest lap of the race at 122.022mph.
Seeley — who had earlier broken Michael’s father Robert’s record of 15 North West wins — said: “I took the lead on the first lap, but at University the front brake came back to the bar and I had little option but to run on.
“I fought back, but the red flag spoiled my race and we didn’t get the second Superbike race.”
And a pair of veterans with over 20 years’ experience at the North West also impressed.
Michael Rutter was in outstanding form, taking his 27th podium finish at the event with third place in the Superbike race on his Bathams SMT BMW, while Honda’s John McGuinness ended the day with three top-10 finishes, which augers well for his TT.
Bet McLean Supersport: 1 A Seeley 27m 39.302s, 2 M Jessopp +6.589s, 3 P Hickman +16.642s, 4 M Mitchell-Thomas +15.958s, 5 D Harrison +16.177s, 6 L Johnston +17.272s.
Spidi Superstock: 1 I Hutchinson 22m 07.389s, 2 P Hickman +0.615s, 3 A Seeley +0.767s, 4 M Rutter +1.208s, 5 M Dunlop +1.633s, 6 L Johnston +3.115s. Anchor Bar Superbike (Red flag after leaders completed 4 laps – result declared): 1 M Dunlop 17m 37.556s, 2 I Hutchinson +5.206s, 3 M Rutter +5.524s, 4 P Hickman +5.686s, 5 L Johnston +6.464s, 6 J McGuinness +6.745s.
John M Patterson Supertwins (Red flag after leaders completed 3 laps - result declared): 1 I Lintin 14m 45.045s, 2 M Jessopp +5.035s, 3 J McWilliams 1 lap, 4 J Cowton 1 lap, 5 M Sweeney 1 lap, 6 D James 1 lap.
Belfast Telegraph Digital