Ian Hutchinson never managed a true flying lap on his new McAMS Yamaha Supersport machine on Tuesday, but the ‘Bingley Bullet’ was in high spirits over the potential of the 2017 YZF-R6 at the North West 200.
Hutchinson only rode the bike for the very first time in the opening practice session on the north coast but was left feeling pleasantly surprised, even though he was a non-qualifier after only completing three laps.
His fastest lap was 106.626mph but the Bingley Bullet has no doubt he will soar up the leaderboard during final qualifying today as he prepares for the first Supersport race later on Thursday evening.
“The bike was better than I expected and I actually thought we’d have a lot more problems, but it’s going really good,” he said.
“It’s very different and at first we thought it just had different forks and brakes but a lot of the bike is very different. We’ve made good progress with it already and I’m happy with it: I’m closer already than I thought I would have been.
“I never got two flying laps in because I was in and out a few times, but I saw a few other guys on my out lap and I made some decent time up on them,” he added.
“I know whereabouts they were at on the times so I was happy enough. I know that we will get some time with the bike and the boys will go over the data and get us to where we need to be for Thursday.”
Hutchinson and the Yamaha R6 have been a dominant combination at the Isle of Man TT in particular, where he has won the last four Supersport races in 2015 and 2016.
He also claimed a win for Keith Flint’s team at the Ulster Grand Prix last August, when he pounced on the final lap to deny William Dunlop at Dundrod in a dramatic finish.
The 37-year-old has won twice in the class at the North West, emerging victorious in 2006 on the McAdoo Kawasaki and claiming a victory for Clive Padgett’s Honda team in 2010.
Hutchy will be hoping he can take the fight to Alastair Seeley, who will go into the Supersport races as the favourite on the Gearlink Kawasaki.
William Dunlop, meanwhile, was left bitterly disappointed when he failed to complete a lap on his IC Racing/Caffrey Yamaha on Tuesday.
The 31-year-old rates the class as his best chance of a podium this week and Dunlop is praying the problem will be ironed out for Thursday’s critical qualifying shootout.
“We just set off and the bike wasn’t right. Nothing is going my way and it’s just the way things have been going for me lately,” he said.
“Hopefully we can get it sorted for Thursday because it’s the only chance I have of getting a result at the minute.
“It’s the same bike as last year and for the last five years it never missed a beat. We’re working on it to try and get it sorted.”
Roads close on Thursday morning from 9.15am for practice, reopening no later than 3pm.
On Thursday evening, roads will be closed from 5pm-9pm for racing.
Thursday race schedule:
Race 1 – HEL Performance Supersport Race (6 laps)
Race 2 – Bayview Hotel Superstock Race (6 laps)
Race 3 – Vauxhall Supertwin Race (4 laps)