13 May 2014
NW200: Rutter sets early Superbike pace
Bathams BMW rider heads Superbike times from Alastair Seeley and Guy Martin on opening day of practice at international road race
Bathams BMW rider Michael Rutter topped the Superbike times as practice got under way at the Vauxhall International North West 200 on Tuesday.
The British Superbike veteran was quickly up to speed as he claimed provisional pole with a speed of 121.106mph from Alastair Seeley on the Mar-Train Racing Kawasaki ZX-10, who lapped at 120.382mph, 1.601s behind.
Rutter is the joint most successful Superbike rider ever at the North West along with Ulster legend Joey Dunlop, with both managing nine wins apiece in the feature class.
Behind Rutter and Seeley, third quickest was Guy Martin on the Tyco Suzuki GSX-R1000 at 120.157mph, who was followed by his team-mate, William Dunlop (119.563mph).
Riders Motorcycles BMW challenger Martin Jessopp, the fastest rider ever through the speed trap at the North West 200 at 208mph, was next at 118.604mph, with the top six completed by Josh Brookes on the Milwaukee Yamaha (118.525mph).
Michael Dunlop, riding his new factory-supported BMW S1000RR Superbike, was eighth was a speed of 118.316mph.
Ian Hutchinson missed the Superbike session after a spill in the earlier Supersport practice, when the Yorkshire rider went down at Mill Road Roundabout.
The Milwaukee Yamaha star, making his return to the North West after missing the event last year, completed a few laps on his Superbike behind the Superstock machines at the end of the day.
Honda Racing's John McGuinness, who is recovering from a broken scaphoid, was 11th fastest ahead of Quattro Plant Kawasaki's James Hillier and Manx rider Conor Cummins.
Peter Hickman, making his debut at the 8.9-mile circuit, was 23rd on the Ice Valley BMW.
In the Superstock class, Austrian Horst Saiger was the surprise pacesetter on his Kawasaki at 118.535mph, finishing quickest by only 0.099s from Rutter on the Bathams BMW with Ulsterman Stephen Thompson, also Bathams BMW-mounted, third (118.414mph).
Martin Jessopp, Simon Andrews (Penz13.com BMW) and Lee Johnston (East Coast/Pirtek Honda) were the top six.
James Hillier was a faller at Ballysally Roundabout, escaping unscathed.
Tuesday Superbike order:
1. Michael Rutter
2. Alastair Seeley
3. Guy Martin
4. William Dunlop
5. Martin Jessopp
6. Josh Brookes
7. Bruce Anstey
8. Michael Dunlop
9. Simon Andrews
10. Lee Johnston
11. John McGuinness
12. James Hillier
13. Conor Cummins
14. Horst Saiger
15. Gary Johnson
16. Dean Harrison
17. Stuart Easton
18. Dan Kneen
19. Stephen Thompson
20. Jamie Hamilton
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