North West 200 May 2019

Hello and welcome to Alex’s Blog,

I’m going to hand over to our J&S supported rider correspondent (and BSB super fan) Daniel Burn from our Leeds store to give you the North West 200 round-up.

Well, it might not be a British Superbike weekend, but we had one rider taking part in the first major road race of the year. Glenn Irwin was taking part in the North West 200. A little bit of information on the North West 200 or NW200 for short, this event takes place on public roads in Northern Ireland. It connects 3 towns on the coast, Portstewart, Coleraine and Portrush. Slipstreaming plays a major part in the NW200, the bikes can reach speeds up to 200mph, especially the section from York Corner to Mill Road Roundabout and then down to University Corner, where it’s hard on the brakes and a opportunity to outbreak the other riders. A short straight from University Corner along to the Ballysally Roundabout or ‘The Magic Roundabout’ they call it that as the riders go round it the wrong way!! Another straight from the round about up to the Mathers Chicane the another straight up to the Magherabuoy Chicane, another straight up to the town of Portrush and in to the Metropole Corner. Which leads onto the final section of the circuit and the coast roads up to the Juniper Chicane which can be the last chance to overtake and seal a podium place or win!!!

NW200 circuit
NW200 Circuit

NW200 Circuit.

Previous winners of the NW200 races include Joey Dunlop 13 wins, his brother Robert Dunlop 15 wins, his son Michael 5 wins and his brother William has 4, John McGuinness has 6 wins. Phillip McCallen has 11, but is the only rider in history to win 5 races in a day.

The action started on Tuesday with practice and then qualifying taking place on Thursday with races taking place on Thursday evening and the whole of Saturday.

Glenn was racing in various classes such as the Supertwin, Superstock and Superbike so a busy schedule was in store for the Carrickfergus rider.

In the Supertwins Glenn was in 4th place after the practice session, and was 6th  and 7th  in the Superstock and Superbike classes respectively. Glenn was finding it hard to get into a rhythm and even contemplated withdrawing from the event on Tuesday night. But on Thursday things seemed to click for the J&S backed rider, 2nd place in Supertwin qualifying and only 0.133 behind the pole man Derek McGee, also a 2nd place in the Superstock class behind British Superbike rival Peter Hickman. But it was the Superbike class where Glenn excelled, having won the past 3 Superbike races in 2017 and 2018 he was out to lay a marker down. Dean Harrison set the pace by going under the lap record but Glenn went even faster by setting a time of 4.21.767 with a average speed of 123.362mph!!!

Glenn in Supertwin action
Glenn in Supertwin action

Thursday night came and first up was the Supertwin race, unfortunately Glenn had to retire due to a technical problem. No time to dwell on the result as it was the first Superstock race. Glenn to the lead on lap one and was in a battle with his team mate for the event James Hillier and BMW rider Peter Hickman. Slipstreaming played a major part in the race with riders swapping positions all the time.

Eventually Glenn and Peter Hickman broke away from the other riders and by the end of the 6 lap race it was Hickman who took the race win but Glenn was only 1.8 seconds behind in 2nd place. A great way to start the racing week. Glenn was getting back into the rhythm of road racing and knowing when to push and when to asses the situation and when to bide his time before making his move.  

Pushing hard in the Superstock class
Pushing hard in the Superstock class.
Racing with Dean Harrison in the Superstock race.
Racing with Dean Harrison in the Superstock race.
Superstock Podium
Superstock Podium

On to Saturday, the main race day, with 5 races due to take place but the weather was against the riders and organisers of the event as rain hit the NW200 circuit for the first time in the week. This meant lengthy delays and races having to be started numerous times. Glenn didn’t start the 2nd Supertwin race which meant a longer wait for Glenn to get out on the track.

Then it was time for the first Superbike race of the weekend which was reduced to 4 laps. Glenn started from pole and led until his team mate passed him by the end of the first lap. Damp conditions meant that a lot of the riders struggled for grip and traction. Glenn was closing down on James but was in a battle with Conor Cummins for 3rd place. Glenn got the better of Conor and took 2nd place and set about closing the gap on his team mate. A dry line was appearing in certain parts of the track, by the start of the last lap Glenn was only 0.565 seconds behind James. Cummins closed up on the 2 Kawasaki riders by using the slipstream. But they broke away, Glenn managed to pass James in the final stages of the lap at the Juniper Chicane and took the race win by 0.163 seconds.

Superbike race Done!
Superbike race done!!
a happy kawasaki team
A happy Kawasaki team
Relief for Glenn
Relief for Glenn

The second Superstock race was over 6 laps and started under wet conditions, Glenn slipped back to 5th place but was pushing all the time. At one point Glenn was clocked doing 199mph at the speed trap. Remember, these are stock bikes and in damp conditions with some standing water in some places on the track!!! Glenn went from 4th to 2nd place by the end of lap 4. He was in a group of riders which included Dean Harrison, Richard Cooper and Davey Todd. With more rain falling Glenn dropped back to 5th place and with conditions getting worse he came home in 8th place. Remember Glenn has the BSB championship to focus on so settling for 8th place isn’t such a bad thing to do.

Unfortunately due to the weather conditions getting worse and the light starting to fade add to the that the track temperature getting lower all the time the final Superbike race was cancelled.

So something a little different from me but I hope you enjoyed reading about the road racing event rather than the normal circuit. But it’s back the domestic racing next weekend, with the next round coming from Donington Park over the Bank Holiday weekend.

So until then thanks for reading.

Until next time, stay safe,

Alex