The morning practice sessions for Superbike, Supersport, Supertwin and Superstock were hampered by damp conditions Thursday morning, leaving starting grids to be determined on times set during the first practices on Tuesday. Gear Link Kawasaki’s Alastair Seeley, however, was unable to set a time in Supersport or Superbike on Tuesday due to mechanical issues, so after a steward’s meeting Thursday it was decided that he would be able to start both races this year, but from the middle of Group B on the grid. Racing kicked off in the afternoon and included the Ballymoney Borough Council Supersport, Vauxhall Supertwin and the Live Wire AV Ltd Superstock races. Seeley set out to make the most of his good fortune, and proved to be a commanding presence on the circuit.
Ballymoney Borough Council Superspot
Michael Dunlop thought he had the Supersport win until Alastair Seeley's adjusted time came in.
Seeley quickly moved up the ranks in adjusted time at the start of the five-lap Supersport race, settling into second-place behind MD Racing’s Michael Dunlop. Pole-sitter John McGuinness of HM Plant Honda by Padgetts slipped back to fifth after the first lap and was unable to make up ground, ultimately ending the contest in seventh. Dunlop and Seeley, meanwhile, proceeded to put a small gap on the rest of the field as they battled for the lead, and though Dunlop was successful in remaining at the head of the pack through four laps, on the final rotation Seeley posted a scorching lap time and claimed the win. Dunlop was unaware of Seeley’s blistering pace until being directed out of the number-one slot in the winner’s enclosure following his finish.
Seeley’s victory marked the 10th of his career in the NW200. Dunlop trailed by just 1.3 seconds in adjusted time while Tyco Suzuki’s Guy Martin ended an additional 23 seconds back in third.
The wet conditions that slowed morning qualifying only got worse in the afternoon, as a fresh downpour just before the Supersport race left the course slick and treacherous.
“The Supersport race was run in really iffy conditions, but the bike was good and very strong,” said Martin. “I led on the first lap but once Dunlop came past I just wasn't prepared to give any more in the early laps on really wet roads.”
McGuinness’ teammate, Bruce Anstey, grabbed fourth followed by Martrain Yamaha Racing’s Stuart Easton in fifth. Ian Bell Motorcycles’ Dean Harrison finished in sixth followed by McGuinness in seventh. Centurion Racing’s Daniel Cooper grabbed eighth with Millsport Racing’s Lee Johnston posting the ninth best effort.
Ballymoney Borough Council Supersport Results 2013:
1. Alastair Seeley (Kawasaki) 24:55.528
2. Michael Dunlop (Honda) 24:56.877
3. Guy Martin (Suzuki) 25:20.465
4. Bruce Anstey (Honda) 25:34.115
5. Stuart Easton (Yamaha) 25:36.265
6. Dean Harrison (Yamaha) 25:37.601
7. John McGuinness (Honda) 25:38.429
8. Daniel Cooper (Triumph) 25:45.005
9. Lee Johnston (Honda) 25:46.158
10. James Hillier (Kawasaki) 25:46.303
LiveWire AV Solutions Superstock
Seeley doubled up after beating Anstey in a nail-biting LiveWire AV Solutions Superstock race, outpacing the Honda rider on the final lap by 0.296 seconds. Lincs Lifting Ltd’s Gary Johnson rounded out the podium, coming across the finish an additional 16 seconds back.
Johnson pulled the lead through the opening laps, fending off Anstey, who remained close to Johnson’s rear tire until assuming the lead on Lap 3. Seeley was third through Lap 1 but fell back to fourth after Martin made a pass on the second rotation. Johnson and Anstey swapped places out front on Lap 4 as Martin and Seeley continued their fight for third. Entering Lap 5, Johnson led followed by Anstey and Seeley, but the three were right on top of one another as they started to stretch a gap on Martin. Johnson began to drop pace a bit on the penultimate lap, giving way for Seeley and Anstey to fight for the lead, which Seeley gained by the end of Lap 5. In the final lap, Anstey gave his all in trying to pass Seeley, but to no avail.
Guy Martin remained cautious in the wet conditions, but still took third in Supersport and fourth in Superstock.
Martin finished the Superstock competition in fourth, followed by CD Racing’s Derek Sheils in fifth. Milwaukee Yamaha’s Conor Cummins took sixth with Martin’s teammate and NW200 rookie, Josh Brookes, trailing in seventh.
“We are improving and improving on the Superstock bike every time we ride it, but I have to remember, the first time I'd ever ridden the bike was when we rolled up here at the start of the week,” explained Brookes. “I've just made changes in a step-by-step process and that's for personal feel, but the engine performance of the GSX-R1000 has been very good and I can draft past people easy enough.
"In the race I started from the second group, which I wasn't that happy about as I wanted to use some of the other fast guys as a gauge, as I'm still struggling to know some of the braking points off the fast straights. I did get the holeshot in my group and led into University, but I ran on and it took me a while to get it turned.
"I had to fight through the traffic then and felt disappointed that a great opportunity had been lost. I just put my head down and got quicker and quicker, lap-by-lap. The first lap through Station Corner, which is quite intimidating, was a matter of building it up; then on my last flying lap I almost kept it flat through there, which is what you've got to do. It took me five laps to learn it.”
LiveWireAV Solutions Superstock Results 2013:
1. Alastair Seeley (Kawasaki) 28:34.583
2. Bruce Anstey (Honda) 28:34.879
3. Gary Johnson (Kawasaki) 28:51.283
4. Guy Martin (Suzuki) 28:55.162
5. Derek Sheils (Kawasaki) 28:57.643
6. Conor Cummins (Yamaha) 28:58.046
7. Josh Brookes (Suzuki) 29:10.187
8. Michael Rutter (Honda) 29:17.559
9. James Hillier (Kawasaki) 29:20.363
10. Jamie Hamilton (Kawasaki) 29:32.649
KMR Vauxhall Dealers’ Jeremy McWilliams grabbed his first-ever NW200 victory, winning the Vauxhall Supertwin race by 0.843 ahead of Qattro Plant Kawasaki’s James Hillier. McWilliams’ teammate, Jamie Hamilton, rounded out the podium.
The 49-year-old McWilliams started from pole position and ran out to an early lead, but Hill Contracts’ William Davison was soon challenging insistently from second-place. Davison battled for the front through the first half of competition but lost his bike in the slick conditions mid-race. He was uninjured in the incident and his fall allowed Hillier and Hamilton to jump into the number two and three spots on the penultimate lap, which they held to the checkers.
McKinstry Racing’s Ivan Lintin finished in fourth followed by Kawasaki rider Lee Johnston in fifth. McWilliams’ teammate, Michael Rutter, grabbed sixth-place ahead of James Cowton, also of KMR Vauxhall Dealers.
Vauxhall Supertwin Results 2013:
1. Jeremy McWilliams (Kawasaki) 21:10.160
2. James Hillier (Kawasaki) 21:11.003
3. Jamie Hamilton (Kawasaki) 21:11.744
4. Ivan Lintin (Kawasaki) 21:13.297
5. Lee Johnston (Kawasaki) 21:35.219
6. Michael Rutter (Kawasaki) 21:42.229
7. James Cowton (Kawasaki) 21:49.745
8. Michael Sweeney (KawasakI) 21:51.083
9. Colin Stephenson (Suzuki) 21:57.290
10. Paul Shoesmith (Kawasaki)