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Rutter leads Jessopp for NW200 SBK pole

19 May 2011

Michael Rutter has taken pole position for the 2011 North West 200 Superbike race after capitalising on Alastair Seeley's mechanical problems.

The 28-time British Superbike race winner led a Bathams-Rapid Ducati 1-2 in the Superbike classes after lapping the Northern Ireland course in a 4mins 26.336secs (121.24mph) time. It was enough to edge out his team-mate Martin Jessopp by a mere six tenths of a second around the 8.970 mile course.

Last year's winner Seeley had been favourite to secure pole position for the 'blue riband' race having comfortably sealed the top spot in both the Superstock and Supersport classes, but mechanical problems on his Relentless by TAS Suzuki meant his Q1 time stood, leaving him seventh on the grid.

Ahead of him, Street Sweep Kawasaki's Michael Dunlop qualified in third position, ahead of Seeley's Relentless team-mate Guy Martin, Wilson Craig Honda's Cameron Donald and East Coast Honda's Gary Johnson.

Despite his Superbike set-back, Seeley is still well placed to score at least two race wins on the NW200 after claiming Superstock pole, ahead of Dunlop and Rutter, before repeating the feat in the Supersport class, ahead of Johnson and Dunlop.

The day's activities were marred, however, by a serious accident involving British Superbike frontrunners and MSS Colchester Kawasaki team-mates Stuart Easton and Gary Mason, who collided during Superstock qualifying.

Easton, currently third in the BSB standings, has since been confirmed with a broken pelvis, but Mason – who took his first BSB podium just days ago at Croft – was unhurt.


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