Carrick’s Alastair Seeley set a new unofficial lap record to take pole for the Superstock races at the Vauxhall International North West 200 on Thursday.
Seeley clocked a time of 4m 24.240s (122.114mph) on the Briggs BMW in perfect conditions on the north coast to bag the top spot from Michael Rutter by 1.984 seconds, who had topped Tuesday’s times on his Bathams SMT BMW.
Peter Hickman was ominously fast in third on the JG Speedfit Kawasaki as he makes his second appearance at the North West after missing out last year through injury.
“We’ve done what we think we can do but it’s not the be-all and end-all to be on pole,” Seeley said.
“I prefer a clear road around here and that’s what I got on my first [flying] lap so I’m happy.”
Tyco BMW contender Ian Hutchinson was fourth fastest from Ballymoney’s Michael Dunlop on his MD Racing BMW, while last year’s race winner Lee Johnston from Fermanagh was sixth quickest on the East Coast/Burdens BMW.
Bradford rider Dean Harrison (Silicone Engineering Kawasaki) and James Hillier (Quattro Plant Muc-off Kawasaki) were the top eight, with William Dunlop (MSS Kawasaki) and Lincolnshire’s Gary Johnson on the Penz13.com BMW completing the top ten.
In the Supertwins class, Stroud’s Dan Cooper clinched pole on his SB Tuning/Cooper Racing Kawasaki by 1.8 seconds from Ryan Farquhar, who won the opening 650cc race in 2015 on his SGS KMR Kawasaki.
Ivan Lintin had set the pace on the Devitt RC Express Kawasaki until he was knocked by two places by Cooper and Farquhar at the end,.
Martin Jessopp, fastest on Tuesday, was fourth overall ahead of Peter Hickman, who is making his debut in the class on the Cookstown B.E. Kawasaki.
James Hillier completed the top six (Quattro Plant Muc-Off Kawasaki).
oads close for the first Supersport, Supertwins and Superstock races on Thursday evening at 5.15pm following final qualifying.