Irwin wins thriller to equal NW200 Superbike record

Glenn Irwin on the Superbike podium
Glenn Irwin celebrates his Superbike win on the top step of the podium [Pacemaker Press]

Glenn Irwin came out on top after a thrilling duel with Davey Todd to secure a ninth consecutive North West 200 Superbike win and equal the all-time record of victories in the premier class.

Michael Rutter and the late Joey Dunlop also achieved nine Superbike successes and Irwin will have two opportunities to surpass their tally when the big bikes take to the grid again on Saturday.

Hundredths of a second separated the dicing duo at the front throughout as they put on a scintillating display of high speed closed public roads racing between the hedges and stone walls of the nine-mile Triangle circuit.

Both riders obliterated the absolute lap record on their second circuit of four, Irwin setting a new benchmark for the course at a speed of 125.779mph.

That lap of four minutes 16.737 seconds sliced two seconds off Peter Hickman's two-year-old record.

Todd was marginally behind with his speed of 125.673.

The Yorkshire rider led after each of the first two laps, with his Northern Irish rival right on his back wheel as they battled for supremacy in front of tens of thousands of excited spectators.

The lead changed hands several times on the final two laps, with Irwin assuming his place at the front at the end of lap three and ultimately coming out on top after Todd's chances were extinguished when he lost out on the coast road section.

The fact that the pair dominated qualifying promised much for the race and they certainly did not disappoint as they were the principle protagonists in one of the most memorable races seen over the circuit in recent years.

Michael Dunlop was 14.2 seconds behind Todd to take third, while Peter Hickman edged out Dean Harrison for fourth, and Conor Cummins rounded out the top six.

Richard Cooper was a convincing Supersport winner and Todd took the chequered flag in the Superstock class.

Glenn Irwin and Davey Todd
Irwin and Davey Todd played out a thrilling four-lap battle on the Triangle circuit [Pacemaker]

'Nine in a row is special'

"I had to work hard to win that race, I had to go to Davey's level and he was really trying in some of the very fast places," Irwin told BBC Sport NI after his landmark win.

"I could see Davey was on the limit and I just kept something in reserve for the final two laps.

"Some people are prepared to ride harder than me but I proved I can still find a way to win here.

"It was a reminder of how tough it is to win here, but to go nine in a row is special."

Three-time race winner Todd commented: "I made a bit of a silly judgement at the end but the bike is an absolute weapon. I've just got to try a little harder next time."

Cooper romps to Supersport win

Cooper had 6.5 seconds to spare over runner-up Hickman at the end of the Supersport race, with Dunlop just 0.3 seconds in arrears of the Lincolnshire rider as he clinched his second rostrum of the evening.

There was drama in the early stages as early leader Todd was taken out by a charging Adam McLean at York Corner on lap one.

The departure of his likely chief challenger allowed Cooper to build an unassailable advantage and secure the fifth North West win of his career and his first outside the Supertwins category.

Riding the BPE by Russell Racing Yamaha for a second successive year, the Nottingham rider posted the fastest lap of the race at 117.657.

The chasing pack could only watch as the race leader disappeared into the distance but the battle for second between the two Triumph riders went some way to ameliorate the disappointment of the absence of Ducati-mounted Todd.

"I rode a good race. I had no boards out there so I didn't realise I was so far in front, I've got a bit in reserve for the next race if I need it," said diminutive 41-year-old Englishman Cooper.

Mike Browne was fourth, Paul Jordan fifth and Cummins again sixth.

Richard Cooper on his Yamaha
Richard Cooper was a Supersport winner for the first time [Pacemaker]

Todd blasts to Superstock triumph

Todd recovered sufficiently from his accident in the Supersport event to take his place in pole position for the Superstocks and emerged the victor on his BMW.

The English rider was pushed all the way by Honda Racing's Dean Harrison, who lost ground after overshooting at Mather's Chicane on the last lap.

Todd's winning margin was 6.97 seconds and his fastest lap 124.46, just outside the class lap record.

Dunlop took another third spot to round off a satisfactory day for the Ballymoney rider, followed over the line by James Hillier, John McGuinness and Finnish rider Erno Kostamo.

"I wasn't sure I was going to race as I was a bit sore from the Supersport crash but I don't come here to sit on the sidelines," explained Todd.

"It's an awesome bike, fantastic to ride and I'm happy to get the win."

Thursday race results

Superbikes - 1 Glenn Irwin (Ducati); 2 Davey Todd (BMW); 3 Michael Dunlop (Honda); 4 Peter Hickman (BMW); 5 Dean Harrison (Honda); 6 Conor Cummins (Honda)

Supersports - 1 Richard Cooper (Yamaha); 2 Peter Hickman (Triumph); 3 Michael Dunlop (Triumph); 4 Mike Browne (Yamaha); 5 Paul Jordan (Honda); 6 Conor Cummins (Honda)

Superstocks - 1 Davey Todd (BMW); 2 Dean Harrison (Honda); 3 Michael Dunlop (Honda); 4 James Hillier (Honda); 5 John McGuinness (Honda); 6 Erno Kostamo (BMW)