NW 200: Michael Dunlop leads opening Superbike practice
Michael Dunlop produced a dominant performance to lead the opening Superbike qualifying session at the North West 200 on Tuesday.
Dunlop's lap with an average speed of 118.21 mph left him well ahead of second fastest Bruce Anstey (115.00) with Guy Martin (114.68) in third.
John McGuinness led the Supersport qualifying session with Alastair Seeley fastest in the Superstock class.
Former MotoGP rider Jeremy McWilliams was quickest in the Supertwins class.
Seeley endured a frustrating opening to the meeting as bike problems prevented him from getting in fast qualifying laps in the Supersport and Superbike sessions at the Northern Ireland road racing meeting.
However, Carrickfergus man Seeley regrouped to be fastest in the Superstock class before the end of the opening day of practice.
Dean Harrison (114.15) was fourth fastest in the Superbike session with North West newcomer Josh Brookes (113.87) fifth and William Dunlop (113.80) sixth.
BBC NI Sport North West 200 coverage
- Tuesday 14 May - Practice session 1 - 10:00 BST-14:30 live on BBC Sport NI website and BBC Radio Ulster 1341 MW
- Thursday 16 May - Practice session 2 - 10:00-14:30 live on BBC Sport NI website and 10:03-14:00 on Radio Ulster MW
- Thursday racing - 17:15-21:00 live on BBC Sport NI website and 17:30-21:00 on Radio Ulster MW
- Friday 17 May - NW 200 preview BBC One NI 22:35-23:15
- Saturday 18 May, Race day - 10:00-18:30 live BBC Sport NI website and 10:30-18:00 on Radio Ulster MW
- Sunday 19 May - NW 200 Highlights (Show 1) 22:25-23:25 on BBC 1 NI
- Monday 20 May - NW 200 Highlights (Show 2) from 22:35-23:35 on BBC 1 NI
But they were well adrift of a slimmed-down Michael Dunlop, who has lost over three stone since Christmas as a result of an intensive fitness regime.
Dunlop's lead time was over eight seconds outside the lap record given the variable conditions on the circuit but still represented a major marker to the rest of the field.
McGuinness's lap 112.00mph left him ahead of his HM Plant Honda/Padgett's team-mate Bruce Anstey (111.49) in the Supersport session.
As was the case in the later Superbike qualifying session, Martin (111.24) was third fastest with William Dunlop (111.16) in fourth.
McWilliams led the opening Supertwins practice session ahead of Michael Rutter and William Davison as the top six riders, all aboard Kawasakis, were inside the existing lap record for the class.
In the Supersport session, Stuart Easton (110.76) was fifth with Michael Dunlop sixth (110.53).
Seeley's Supersport bike over-hearted after the radiator was damaged and he was unable to complete a lap in the Superbike session after smoke came out from the back of his machine.
The Carrickfergus man will be hoping that the threatened bad weather forecast for Thursday doesn't materialise so that he can post fast enough laps in Thursday's second qualifying sessions.
"I got a hole in the radiator and the bike was reaching temperatures of about 135 degrees so I was worried that the engine would get totally damaged," said Seeley of his Supersport misfortune, before he suffered more mechanical problems in the Superbike session.
However, he finished the opening practice day on a better note by heading the shortened Superstock session with a lap of 118.05 which left him ahead of Michael Dunlop (117.24) and John McGuinness (117.19).
Earlier, McGuinness, 41, had been "shocked" to lead the Supersport session.
"I can't believe it. They are not really my kind of conditions," said McGuinness after plotting his way around a circuit which had a mixture of dry and wet sections.
TUESDAY'S LEADING PRACTICE TIMES
1. John McGuinness (112.00 mph)
2. Bruce Anstey (111.49)
3. G Martin (111.24)
4. William Dunlop (111.16)
5. Stuart Easton (110.76)
6. Michael Dunlop (110.53)
1. Michael Dunlop (118.21)
2. Bruce Anstey (115.00)
3. Guy Martin (114.68)
4. Dean Harrison (114.15)
5. Josh Brookes (113.87)
6. William Dunlop (113.80)
1. Jeremy McWilliams (104.78)
2. Michael Rutter (104.72)
3. William Davison (104.26)
4. Jamie Hamilton (104.25)
5. Michael Dunlop (103.08)
6. James Hillier (102.96)
1. Alastair Seeley 118.05
2. Michael Dunlop 117.24
3. John McGuinness 117.19
4. Bruce Anstey 116.75
5. Gary Johnson 116.68
6. Michael Rutter 116.20