Richard Cooper claimed pole position in Supertwins qualifying at the North West 200 on Thursday morning, the JMcC Roofing Kawasaki rider lapping a second quicker than Frenchman Pierre Yves Bian (VAS Engine Racing Paton) and half a second inside the existing lap record. Paul Jordan (Prez Racing Kawasaki) completed the front row.
With Tuesday’s session having taken place in mixed conditions, today’s times were immediately quicker and it was Cooper who set the early pace, his lap of 4’53.175s some 21s quicker than his fastest time from a couple of days before.
That put him 2.7s clear of former Newcomers Manx Grand Prix winner Bian with Jordan a further 2.1s adrift in third. Jamie Coward (KTS Racing Kawasaki), Jeremy McWilliams (IFS/Bayview Hotel Paton) and Lee Johnston (Ashcourt Racing Aprilia) completed the early top six.
Bian moved to the top of the leaderboard next time around, albeit by just 0.180s, but this put him just half a second outside Martin Jessopp’s lap record from 2017. Joe Loughlin Team ILR/Mark Coverdale Paton) moved up to fourth and on his next lap, he went one better at the expense of Jordan.
On the half hour mark, Cooper reasserted his authority with a lap of 4’51’951, a second clear of Bian and half a second inside Jessopp’s record mark of 4’52.438. The Frenchman remained in second with Loughlin third and Coward now fourth, Jordan dropping back to fifth ahead of McWilliams. The latter then slipped back to seventh with Johnston moving back into the top six but not for long as McWilliams went fourth quickest next time around.
Jordan jumped up to third in the closing stages and that meant it was Loughlin, McWilliams and Coward who placed fourth to sixth thus completing the line up on the second row.
Michael Dunlop (McAdoo Racing Kawasaki), Johnston, Michael Rutter (Team ILR/Mark Coverdale Paton) and Michael Sweeney (KBS Kawasaki) rounded out the top ten with Peter Hickman 13th on the recently prepared PHR Performance Aprilia.