Retro Rewind: John McGuinness claims Superbike spoils for sixth NW200 triumph

John McGuinness will forever be inextricably linked with the Isle of Man TT, but the Morecambe man also has a longstanding association with the North West 200.

Tuesday, 11th May 2021, 8:00 am

Continuing our series of special features this week looking back at some memorable moments from Northern Ireland’s biggest road race, we reflect on McGuinness’s sixth and last victory in the opening Superbike race in 2012.

Riding the Honda TT Legends Fireblade, the 23-time TT winner was back at the ‘Triangle’ course after a rare absence from the event in 2011, when McGuinness and team-mate Keith Amor were required to race at the second round of the World Endurance Championship at Albacete in Spain.

The 40-year-old qualified strongly to put his CBR1000RR Honda on the front row of the grid in second place alongside pole man Alastair Seeley on the Tyco Suzuki and William Dunlop, who was riding Wilson Craig’s Honda.

Honda TT Legends rider John McGuinness celebrates winning the opening Superbike race at the 2012 North West 200.

In dry and sunny conditions, pre-race favourite Seeley moved into the lead and had opened an advantage of two seconds when he ran wide at Church corner on the second lap of six, leaving the door open for McGuinness.

The Honda rider, seeking his third Superbike victory around the 8.9-mile course, took full advantage of the Ulsterman’s error to take over at the front.

McGuinness began to put daylight between himself and the chasing pack, which included Michael Rutter on the MSS Kawasaki, Ryan Farquhar (KMR Kawasaki) and Australian Cameron Donald (Wilson Craig Honda).

Seeley, though, was on a charge back through the field and managed to force his way into second place, but McGuinness had the race in the bag as he closed out his sixth win by 4.2 seconds, with Donald almost eight seconds further back in third position.

John McGuinness on his way to victory in the opening Superbike race at Black Hill on the Honda TT Legends Fireblade in 2012.

A delighted McGuinness, who made his NW200 debut in 1994, said: “My last win here was when I won the Superbike race in 2010.

“It’s a great result for the Legends team and it’s the first time I’ve brought the bike here in the Legends colours.

“The bike was fantastic and it might not be the fastest, but it’s reliable and it’s the best package out there.

“It sets me up for next week going to the Isle of Man and I really enjoyed the race out there,” he added.

“It was really dusty and there were a few stones about. The bike is good and I felt good, but five races over six laps on the same day is tough and I was knackered after the 600 race

“Alastair may have been a bit faster than me but you’ve got to get to the chequered flag first.

“I knew on that last lap that I had six seconds in hand and if I’d lost the race from there then it would be time to hang the leathers up!”

Carrickfergus man Seeley was left to rue his mistake on lap two, which cost him the chance of fighting for a coveted Superbike triumph.

“I hit a neutral and when I dropped it back into gear it upset the bike and I couldn’t get stopped,” he said.

“I got it turned around but I hit another neutral at Juniper Hill and I said, ‘right, just smooth it all out’ and I decided to try and finish wherever I finished.

“I can’t be disappointed with a podium because it’s always good, but I think we had the speed and the pace, and my tyres were working well, but fair play to John – he got the win.”

On the final lap, Donald pulled out all the stops to seal third place after passing Kawasaki pair Farquhar and Rutter to secure the final rostrum place.

“On that last lap it all started to come good and I was feeling more comfortable towards the end once I got rid of the rest of the pack,” Donald said.

“I was battling with Michael Dunlop for about three laps and he wasn’t going to give me an inch, and neither was I.

“But I knew once I got clear I could pull away and on that last lap I knew I had a shot at the podium.”

Rutter finished fourth ahead of Farquhar, with New Zealand’s Bruce Anstey completing the top six on Clive Padgett’s Honda.

Seeley later made amends as he won the feature Superbike race from Rutter and McGuinness to complete a double on the day, coupled his win in the second Supersport race from William Dunlop.

Earlier, Dunlop earned Wilson Craig’s maiden international roads victory as he edged out Seeley in the Supersport opener.

The evergreen Rutter won the Superstock race to draw level with Joey Dunlop on 13 wins, taking the honours from Seeley and James Hillier, who was celebrating his first NW200 podium.