Michael Dunlop gave Northern Ireland another victory at today’s North West 200 with a dominant performance in a shortened Superbike race. The Hawk Racing BMW rider was leading by over five seconds when the red flag came out with the leaders starting their fifth lap, the race being declared with Ian Hutchinson second and Michael Rutter third.
Bruce Anstey was the faller having come off at Church Corner although the Kiwi was back in the paddock shortly afterwards and was ok.
Rutter again led off the line from Alastair Seeley and Peter Hickman but Seeley made a mistake on the brakes at University and ran on, dropping outside the top twenty. At the front, Hutchinson overhauled Rutter at Mathers Cross and he led at the end of the opening lap with Anstey up to second, Gary Johnson third, Lee Johnston fourth as Rutter slipped back to seventh.
Second time around Hutchinson still led but Dunlop had gone from fifth to second whilst Seeley was up to 16th and was the fastest man on the track. Dunlop then grabbed the lead third time around as Anstey re-took second from Hutchinson with Rutter regrouping to move back up to fourth. Hickman, Johnston and John McGuinness were in hot pursuit as less than three seconds covered the top seven.
Dunlop moved to the head of the field on the fourth lap and with a new outright lap record of 123.207mph, he opened up a sizeable lead. Indeed, his advantage over Hutchinson was some five seconds as he started his fifth lap, Rutter now up to third and Hickman fourth. Seeley had moved up to eighth.
However, Anstey – who had gone through the speed trap at a record 209.8mph – was missing and he was off at Church, fortunately without injury.
The result was ultimately declared at four laps with Dunlop getting his fifth NW200 win ahead of Hutchinson and Rutter filling the podium. Hickman, Johnston and McGuinness were close behind as Conor Cummins, Seeley, Didier Grams and Jeremy McWilliams completed the top ten.