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NW200: Dunlop claims provisional Superbike pole

Michael Dunlop knocked Alastair Seeley off the top spot to claim provisional Superbike pole on day one of the North West 200.
Northern Ireland's Michael Dunlop produced a blistering late lap to take provisional pole at the Vauxhall International North West 200 on Tuesday.

Event specialist Alastair Seeley had been setting the pace on the RAF/Briggs BMW, but Dunlop hit the top on the Hawk Racing BMW with a lap of 121.653mph to cement his place by 0.581 seconds.

Behind 15-time winner Seeley – who will become the most successful North West 200 rider ever with one more victory this year – Tyco BMW's Ian Hutchinson was third fastest at 120.894mph, leaving the Bingley Bullet one second down on Dunlop.

Honda's John McGuinness, Michael Rutter (Bathams SMT BMW) and James Hillier on the Quattro Plant Muc-Off Kawasaki were the top six.

JG Speedfit Kawasaki's Peter Hickman was seventh fastest as the Burton-on-Trent man returns to the North West after missing out through injury last year.

Hickman made his roads debut at the event in 2014 and is a dark horse for the podium despite his relative inexperience at the Triangle meeting.

Conor Cummins was eighth fastest on the second of the Honda Racing Fireblades followed by Kiwi Bruce Anstey (Valvoline Padgetts Honda) and Ulsterman Lee Johnston in tenth on the East Coast BMW, who is some way off peak fitness after a crash at the Scarborough Spring Cup meeting in April.

Former Grand Prix star Jeremy McWilliams was 11th fastest on the Mar-Train Yamaha R1 as the veteran racer replaces Manxman Dan Kneen in the team for the North West, who was ruled out after breaking his arm in a bicycle accident.

Earlier in the day, Seeley was dominant in Supersport practice on the Gearlink Kawasaki ZX-6R, leading the way by 3.8 seconds following a lap at 116.412mph in perfect conditions.

Hutchinson was second fastest on the CAME BPT-backed Yamaha R6 as he remains in Keith Flint's Team Traction Control team for the second year running.

Yeovil's Martin Jessopp was third quickest on the Riders Motorcycles Triumph ahead of Lee Johnston, also riding a Triumph 675, and John McGuinness on the Jackson Racing Honda.

Bradford's Dean Harrison, riding Kawasaki machines this year for the Silicone Engineering team, finalised the first six.

Michael Dunlop was seventh fastest on his MD Racing Yamaha ahead of Bruce Anstey and William Dunlop, also Yamaha-mounted.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Michael Dunlop on the Hawk Racing BMW at the North West 200.
Lee Johnston has teamed up with Ryan Farquhar to race a KMR Kawasaki in the NI Air Ambulance colours at the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT.
Alastair Seeley with the Tyco BMW he will race at the North West 200.
John McGuinness on the Jackson Racing Honda.
Guy Martin, John McGuinness Honda Racing, [Credit: Honda Racing]
Michael Rutter and John McGuinness during the pre-event press conference ahead of the 50th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix.
Action from the 2016 North West 200
Bruce Anstey won the Lightweight race at the Classic TT on the Padgetts Honda RS250.
John McGuinness on the Winfield Paton at the Classic TT.
Bruce Anstey on the Padgetts RS250 Honda at the Classic TT.
Bruce Anstey on the Padgetts RS250 Honda at the Classic TT.
Ian Lougher, Dean Harrison and Lee Johnston in the winners` enclosure following the 2015 500cc Classic TT
Tyco BMW`s Ian Hutchinson
Bruce Anstey on the YZR500 Yamaha at the Classic TT.
Ian Hutchinson leads Michael Dunlop in the Superbike class at the Ulster Grand Prix.
Ian Hutchinson celebrates his four wins at the Ulster Grand Prix.
Senior TT race winner Michael Dunlop, runner-up Ian Hutchinson and John McGuinness
Sidecar crew Ian and Carl Bell

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