Steve Plater took an impressive second position behind fellow Honda rider Michael Rutter in the first Superbike race at the Junction One International North West 200 in Northern Ireland.

The Honda Racing UK rider was making his debut for the team on a CBR1000RR Fireblade that is normally campaigned by Karl Harris in the British Superbike Championship.

Plater started the Dewalt Superbike Race alongside pole position Michael Rutter and that was the running order at the end of the first lap. Plater's 2.909-second deficit was down to 0.963 seconds at the end of lap three with the popular Lincolnshire rider setting a new lap record of 4min 22.953secs.

Plater then made his move at Ballysally roundabout on the fourth lap to take the lead and establish a 1.412-second advantage with two laps remaining.

However, Rutter struck back on the approach to University Corner to power past Plater on lap five. Plater tried everything he could to retake the advantage, but just missed out on his first North West 200 win by a fraction of a second.

However, Plater was unable to build upon that excellent performance when he was forced into an early retirement in the last race of the day. He started the Blackhorse North West 200 Superbike race with a cut slick rear tyre, which proved to be an incorrect choice on a wet, but drying track.

So Plater was one of several retirements at the end of the first lap. The race was eventually won by Bruce Anstey, closely followed by the Team DMRR Honda Racing duo of Richard Britton and Ian Lougher in second and third positions respectively.

"The Fireblade and Dunlop tyres make a formidable combination over the North West 200 circuit," commented Plater. "I've had a fantastic set-up thanks to the team's hard work in practice and I've benefited from the stability of the bike on the fastest parts of the circuit. Second was a fantastic result, especially if you consider how close it was to a win.

"I was a bit annoyed in the closing stages though - I was planning to make a move on Michael [Rutter] but a backmarker got in the way at the Juniper Hill Chicane. The second race was always going to be a bit of a lottery for tyre choice. Some got it right, but unfortunately I got it wrong! I couldn't have continued with the track so damp, so I had to pull in - even though I didn't want to disappoint the fans."