2022 North West 200
Thursday Racing Round Up
Report by Ben McCook
A shortened program of races took place in less-than-ideal conditions in the early hours of the morning at the North West 200 in Northern Ireland.
As forecast, rain showers took hold of the region just as the roads closed and proceeded to hang around for the rest of the evening, causing a real headache for the organisers, competitors and fans alike. Not only was it wet, it was cold. And it came as somewhat of a surprise to the eager fans sheltering in the hedgerows when the sound of revving engines indicated that Supersport machines were heading for the grid as scheduled. It’s a common complaint amongst road race fans nowadays (particularly the old guard) that they simply don’t race on the roads anymore in the wet.
Given the well documented risks involved and the sheer power of modern-day motorbikes, that’s probably understandable. Indeed, some of the riders, including Superstock pole sitter Glenn Irwin, decided that tomorrow was another day and didn’t take part. However, the theory that they don’t allow racing in the rain was blown out of the water (excuse the pun) this evening and one man will be particularly pleased about that.
The ‘Wee Wizard’ Alastair Seeley put his vast experience to good use, splashing his way through the puddles to a double victory in dull conditions.
Seeley’s strategy was faultless. Get out in front early and stay ahead of the pack, who then had to contend with huge plumes of spray thrown up from the back wheel of those in front. From trackside, it was hard to understand how those playing follow-my-leader could see anything at all. It made for impressive scenes, particularly on the trademark high-speed sections of the course.
Davey Todd was initially Seeley’s main rival in the opening Supersport race. However, the race was aborted after just one lap due to an incident at the Magherabouy chicane. The red flag cast a solemn mood over the circuit as the fans feared the worst in such dangerous conditions. No news is never good news when it comes to stoppages at road races. However, it wasn’t long before the incident was declared a minor one and the riders were back on the grid for a shortened 4 lap race.
This time, Adam McLean and Jeremy McWilliams were keen to get in on the act. The locals could not believe the pace and determination of McWilliams; a hero to many for over 30 years. Himself and McLean closed down Todd and Seeley making it an 8-wheel race for the win. In the end, McLean overshot and fell out of contention and after some jousting and tight moves Seeley and Todd proved they had just a little more than ‘Jizza’.
Never-the-less, it is often remembered that McWilliams stepped onto 500cc podium alongside Valentino Rossi at Donnington Park in 2000. Over 20 years on, this Supersport podium (also a 3rd place) will be seen as comparable and must rank as one of his greatest results.
Supersport Race One Results
- Alastair SEELEY, Yamaha – IFS 20:09.426 106.384mph
- Davey TODD, Honda – Milenco by Padgett’s Motorcycles 20:11.410 106.210mph
- Jeremy McWILLIAMS, Yamaha – Burrows by RK Racing 20:15.402 105.861mph
- Adam McLEAN, Kawasaki – McAdoo Kawasaki Racing 20:24.825 105.047mph
- Conor Cummins, Honda – Milenco by Padgett’s Motorcycles 20:34.115 104.256mph
- Dean HARRISON, Kawasaki – DAO Racing 20:39.743 103.783mph
- James HILLIER, Yamaha – RICH Energy OMG Racing 20:48.227 103.077mph
- Matthew REES, Kawasaki – Rees Racing 20:51.264 102.827mph
- Joe LOUGHLIN, Yamaha – Team ILR / Mark Coverdale 20:51.705 102.791mph
- Pierre Yves BIAN, Kawasaki – Martimotos Racing 20:52.312 102.741mph
In the following Superstock race, Seeley took the lead on the first lap and was never headed. Todd again gave chase but it never looked like there was any danger of the Milenco Honda man beating Alastair on the night.
As the six-lapper entered into the final stages, the booming drone of Seeley’s IFS R1 Yamaha echoed across the sodden Ulster fields, leaving anyone within earshot in no doubt that Seeley had embarked on a solo mission.
Davey Todd eventually crossed the line second for the second time the night with Richard Cooper on the podium on a Hawk racing GSX-R ahead of Conor Cummins and Michael Rutter.
42-year-old Seeley already topped the North West all-time winners list by some margin before a wheeled turned on the night. He now sits on 26 wins with four more chances to go even further on Saturday.
The SuperTwins was scheduled in for the end of the evening, but with failing light and time against them, the organisers called time on dates and canceled the race. It wasn’t the most popular decision amongst the Twins specialists. McWilliams in particular was a little peeved. The veteran understandably sensed a real chance of victory. However, it was the right decision and the only realistic course of action on the night. With Saturday’s forecast much better and everyone home safe and sound after two enthralling contests; the general consensus amongst those in attendance was that two out of three ain’t bad.
It remains to be seen whether they can squeeze that Twins race into an already full program on Saturday. All being well there shouldn’t be any reason that they can’t. If these opening bouts are anything to go by, Saturday’s main event is not to be missed and Alastair Seeley is the man to beat. Josh Brookes will be in action in the two main event Superbike races. Watch live through the BBC Northern Ireland website.
Superstock Race One Results
- Alastair Seeley
- Davey Todd +12.864s
- Richard Cooper +19.868s
- Conor Cummins +36.428s
- Michael Rutter +39.725s
- Marty Lennon +1min48.366s
- Carl Phillips +1m51.843s
- Ian Hutchinson +1min59.850s
- Mike Booth +2min04.803s
- Stefano Bonetti 2min13.084s