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NW200: Seeley edges Dunlop for pole treble

Alastair Seeley made it a hat-trick of pole positions at the North West 200 after narrowly seeing off Michael Dunlop in Superbike qualifying.
Alastair Seeley completed a pole hat-trick as the Ulster rider narrowly fended off Michael Dunlop in a scorching final Superbike qualifying at the North West 200.

The session was red-flagged with around 15 minutes remaining due to a red-flag incident at Mill Road roundabout, with the rider involved airlifted to hospital in Belfast. A statement released by the organisers said his injuries were non-life threatening.

Dunlop had thrown down a marker on the Hawk Racing BMW but not to be undone, Seeley grabbed pole with a lap of 122.343mph on his Briggs BMW to deny his fellow Northern Ireland rival by only 0.017 seconds.

“I went out at the start of the session and didn't feel like I had much grip so I came in and changed from the harder to the softer tyre,” Seeley explained.

“We made some adjustments and it immediately felt better and with clear traffic on the second lap I set my fastest speed.

I can still tidy the bike up a bit because it isn't 100 per-cent yet but we have laid a marker down and everyone likes to get P1.”

Thirteen-time winner Michael Rutter (121.648mph) was third fastest on the Bathams SMT BMW ahead of Lee Johnston, who heads up row two on the East Coast/Burdens BMW.

The Fermanagh man is joined by Peter Hickman, who was fifth quickest on the JG Speedfit Kawasaki and Tyco BMW's Ian Hutchinson in sixth.

Hutchinson earlier broke the 200mph barrier through the speed trap on his Superstock-spec Tyco BMW, the first time a Superstock bike has been timed at that speed on the Triangle course.

Gary Johnson (Penz13.com BMW) was seventh fastest with John McGuinness clinching eighth spot despite holing the radiator on his factory Honda.

James Hillier (Quattro Plant Kawasaki) and Ryan Farquhar (Tyco BMW) completed the top ten for both of Saturday's Superbike races.

Jeremy McWilliams qualified a very respectable 14th on the Mar-Train Yamaha R1 as he acts as stand-in for the injured Dan Kneen, finishing ahead of North West Superbike regulars Martin Jessopp (Riders BMW) and David Johnson (Ice Valley BMW).

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Alastair Seeley on the Briggs BMW Superbike 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
John McGuinness on the Winfield Paton 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
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
Ian Hutchinson o the Team Traction Control Yamaha R6 at the Isle of Man TT.
Ian Hutchinson on the Team Traction Control Yamaha in the second Monster Energy Supersport race at the Isle of Man TT.
Ian Hutchinson on the Tyco BMW Superstock machine at the Isle of Man TT.
Ian Hutchinson on his Tyco BMW Superstock machine at the Isle of Man TT.

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