The 2023 edition of the North West 200 has begun, with the fastest time in qualifying for the first time.

The 2023 edition of the North West 200 has begun, with the fastest time in qualifying for the first time.

Glenn Irwin and Josh Brookes start the Superbike qualifying session – North West 200 | © NW200 / Pacemaker – Stephen Davison

The annual North West 200 has started again. The first day was characterized by changeable weather, but despite this, fast lap times were run in four different classes.

It was long uncertain whether a race could be held in Northern Ireland in 2023, let alone an event the size of the North West 200. Thanks to crowdfunding, donations from entrepreneurs (one in particular) and a new insurance company, the event was able to go ahead. Race Director Mervyn White admitted today that he wouldn’t have thought it would happen a month ago, but the first day of motoring at the ‘Triangle’ has now successfully concluded.

Read: The 2023 edition of the North West 200 and all races in Northern Ireland have been cancelled
Read: The North West 200 organization does not give up: “We cannot lose such an important event”
Read: The Isle of Man TT also suffered from rising insurance costs
Read: The North West 200 and all the other sports in Northern Ireland are still going on

It had rained heavily overnight so the track was still full on Tuesday morning. The newcomers were first to take action driving a few laps behind the experienced Steve Plater who showed the drivers the way. However, one of the guests in this session blew up his block, leaving a huge oil trail and delays as a result.

After this fuel line is cleared, the Supersport unit session can begin. The North West 200 has also adopted new Supersport regulations this year, allowing the Ducati Panigale V2, among others, to enter the class.

Alastair Seeley, the 43-year-old Northern Irishman who holds the record with 27 North West 200 wins, set the fastest lap on his Panigale V2 with 4’36.589, ahead of Richard Cooper, Dean Harrison and Michael Dunlop who all three on a Yamaha YZF-R6 were on the road. Peter Hickman scored the fifth in his 765th victory.

Supersport 1 qualifying results:

  1. Alastair Seeley–Ducati | 4’36,589
  2. Richard Cooper–Yamaha | +0.394
  3. Dean Harrison–Yamaha | +1,530
  4. Michael Dunlop–Yamaha | +1.692
  5. Peter Hickman–Victory | +2,882

Click here for full results

The Superbikes then took to the 14.4km road circuit between the villages of Portstewart, Portrush and Coleraine. On Hawk Racing’s Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade, Michael Dunlop set the fastest time of 4’22.658 ahead of Alastair Seeley on Milwaukee BMW’s BMW M 1000 RR with the TAS Racing team and Lee Johnston who has sold this BMW to BMW. year Honda CBR1000RR-R.

Peter Hickman was also fast on the road with a BMW, as was the now 51-year-old John McGuinness. There were problems for Josh Brookes who had to retire his M 1000 RR after just one lap.

Nadieh Schoots is the only participant from the Netherlands, she used a lap time of 35 with 4’56.347 seconds.

Top 1 Bike Qualifying Results:

  1. Michael Dunlop–Honda | 4’22.658
  2. Alastair Seeley–BMW| +1.929
  3. Lee Johnston–Honda | +6,229
  4. Peter Hickman–BMW | +7,264
  5. John McGuinness-Honda | +7,629

Click here for full results

It should be noted that Dunlop has officially withdrawn from the road races (North West 200 and Isle of Man TT) following the 2022 tire crisis, which resulted in loose treads and flat tires in some cases. So there is no Dunlop service truck in the paddock and almost all the drivers use Metseler tyres, the tire manufacturer that recently became an official partner of the Isle of Man TT. However, Peter Hickman is still a ‘factory driver’ for Dunlop and is one of the few to use Dunlop tyres.

After qualifying for the Superbike class, it was time for the Supertwin class. Just before the session, it started to rain heavily, but because the pitch was still warm from the blazing sun, it dried up again. In this session, Richard Cooper set the fastest time ahead of 59-year-old former Grand Prix driver Jeremy McWilliams and Paul Jordan who clocked 4’49.037. Cooper won both Supertwin races in 2022 by force majeure but had his victory stripped due to suspected rules violations. Team manager Ryan Farquhar said the process is still ongoing and may even end up in court.

Results Supertwin Qualifying 1:

  1. Richard Cooper–Kawasaki | 4’49.037
  2. Jeremy McWilliams – Paton | +3.415
  3. Paul Jordan–Kawasaki | +7,764
  4. Adam McLean–Kawasaki | +8,578
  5. Michael Dunlop–Kawasaki | +10,173

Click here for full results

Finally, the Superstock machines were left on the track for the first qualifying session. With 4’21.769, Alastair Seeley set the fastest lap time of the day, just three seconds slower than Peter Hickman’s outright lap record set in 2022. Michael Dunlop set the second fastest time on his MD Racing Honda , Hickman was third. Nadieh Schoots set the 30th lap time in this class with a 4’50.132.

  1. Alastair Seeley–BMW| 4’21,769
  2. Michael Dunlop–Honda | +1,960
  3. Peter Hickman–BMW | +3,084
  4. Davey Todd–Honda | +4,640
  5. Lee Johnston–Honda | +4,733

Click here for full results

Second qualifying sessions will take place on Thursday morning and early afternoon for the Supersport, Superbike, Supertwin and Superstock categories. In the evening there are the first races of the Supersport, Superstock and Supertwin classes. Saturday is a big race day with no less than five races: twice the Superbike class and once the other three classes.

Key Links North West 200

Full schedule and results
Live time
Live stream (video)

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