It was a Dunlop day at the Vauxhall International North West 200 on Saturday as Michael Dunlop won the feature Superbike race on the Hawk/Motorrad BMW and his elder brother William won the other for Tyco Suzuki.
His second victory on in the CP Hire Superstock race plus three podiums in the Pirtek Superstock race, the EventServ Superbike race and the Anchor Complex Supertwin race during race week ensured Michael was also the recipient of the Man of the Meeting award.
“We came here with no time whatsoever on the bikes and we beat BSB riders like Alastair Seeley and Josh Brookes,” Michael smiled afterwards.
“We did it in the wet and in the dry today and this means that I have now won International road races on BMW’s, Kawasakis, Yamahas and Hondas.”
The day had started badly for the Ballymoney man after he finished a lowly fifth in the opening Milwaukee Supersport race, which was won by veteran Kiwi, Bruce Anstey on a Valvoline Padgett’s Honda. Anstey had benefited from a coming together by race leaders Lee Johnston (Pirtek Honda) and Alastair Seeley (Mar-Train Yamaha) at Metropole corner that saw both of them crash out of the race without injury.
“I think I got out of bed on the right side this morning,” the 45 year old laughed after taking the win.
“My 600 is as fast as anything out there and I had lost out to Johnston and Seeley when I overshot Mather’s chicane.”
Michael Dunlop bounced back to finish runner up behind brother William in the second race of the day, the opening Superbike encounter. This was the race of the day as Michael, who had made a terrible start, reeled in his elder sibling and passed him at Metropole on the final lap.
The packed grandstands were on their feet as the local heroes shared each other’s wheel tracks along the Coast road.
A superb late braking manoeuvre saw William slip past at Juniper Hill chicane and he managed to hold on to win his first International superbike race.
“I didn’t even know Michael was there until Mather’s on the last lap,” the 28 year old said afterwards.
“I had been taking it easy to save the tyres but I had to start racing again. It’s been a long time coming but it’s nice to have won here on a 125, 250, 600 and big bike.”
Fermanagh’s Lee Johnston steered his Pirtek Kawasaki to his second Supertwin victory of the week with Michael Dunlop (McAdoo Kawasaki) finishing second and James Cowton (Kendo Racing Kawasaki) taking third.
“I really needed that,” the Maguiresbridge rider admitted afterwards.
“I’ve been walking round the paddock with a long face after what happened in the Supersport race so I really wanted to win this race and pushed hard once I’d got to the front.”
After that the day belonged to Michael Dunlop. The Ballymoney extended his North West win tally to four with victories in the CP Hire Superstock race and the Vauxhall Superbike race on BMW S1000RRs.
Dunlop and Batham’s BMW mounted Michael Rutter were locked in battle when the red flags came out on the third lap after Simon Andrews (Penz13.com BMW) crashed heavily on the approach to Metropole. Andrews was airlifted by helicopter to hospital and Dunlop declared the winner of the shortened race with Rutter in second and Gary Johnson (Lincs Lifting Kawasaki) in third.
Dunlop got another poor start in the feature Superbike race but battled his way through the pack to catch early leaders Josh Brookes (Milwaukee Yamaha) and Alastair Seeley (Mar-Train Kawasaki) by breaking the lap record twice. The Ballymoney man grabbed the lead on the fourth lap of five and opened a gap when Brookes ran wide on to the grass at Mather’s chicane.
“I really wanted to show what I could do on the BMW and the crowd was fantastic as they cheered me on on that last lap.” he said as he supped the winners’ bubbly.
“After the first race I had a good feel for the bike and we made a few changes that made things better and the best thing was that I stopped anyone beating my dad Robert’s record of 15 North West wins.”
Brookes eventually finished second, beating Seeley by 1.6 seconds after setting a new outright lap record of 122.958mph on the final lap of the race in what was only the Aussie BSB star’s third road race meeting.
“I am thrilled to be on the podium today.” he said after taking his second rostrum finish of race week and earning the Overseas Man of the Meeting award.
Peter Hickman (Ice Valley BMW) took the Best Newcomer award with four top 20 finishes during the week.