Thursday practice is a key at the Northwest 200. It is a time to try and find the right setup ahead of the opening races of the weekend but with typically Irish weather affecting proceedings it is clear that the riders and teams are faced with a difficult task ahead of the opening Supersport, Supertwin and Superstock races.
In the Superbike class there is one constant regardless of the weather; the speed of Michael Dunlop. The Honda has been the pacesetter so far in NW200 week and a clear path is emerging for him to take the spoils this weekend. With Alistair Seeley now riding a Kawasaki and John McGuiness historically strong at the TT the fight for the win in this year’s Superbike races could be distilled into a battle between Dunlop and the mercurial Bruce Anstey.
With today’s sessions proving a washout the grid will be set from Tuesday’s dry session. Having had mechanical issues with his MSS Kawasaki Seeley will be starting from 21st on the grid and left with a mountain to climb to add to his haul of Northwest victories.
In the dry session Dunlop was dominant with the Honda Legends rider over seven seconds clear of the field. His speed is such that it is clear that if he can get an early break from the pack he could be unbeatable. Having started the season in superb form he is the clear favourite for the honours.
In the Superstock class Seeley maintained his earlier practice advantage around The Triangle with the Carrickfergus native comfortably faster than Dunlop with McGuiness in close company. The leading trio should be in position to fight for the win with William Dunlop, Guy Martin and Conor Cummins all qualifying down the field.
McGuiness, riding the HM Plant Honda, will start from pole position for both Supersport races after the second qualifying session was ended early due to the heavy rain. The class should be very competitive this weekend with Anstey, Martin and the Dunlop brothers all proving very quick.