For the first time in many years the NW was bathed in sun and warmth for race week it was a welcome sight and seemed to have brought the crowds back to the event.
Thursday night saw history as Alastair Seeley took sole ownership of the all time wins record at the NW 200. He won the Supersport race onboard the Gear link Kawasaki the race itself was hard fought with at least 6 riders fighting for the lead during the 6 lap race in any one lap the lead could change 5 or 6 times. Seeley eventually broke the group behind on the last lap setting a new lap record in the process Ian Hutchinson came home second and Martin Jessop third in what was one of the best races ever seen around the North Coast.
Video From the Thursday night Supersport race from my vantage point:
The Next race on the thursday night was the Supertwins the race was delayed due to a fire at a house close to station corner. Once the fire was put out the race began Ryan Farquhar the king of the supertwin class lead the way with Dan Cooper close behind these 2 set about racing each other for the lead leaving the rest of the field behind. Unfortunately on the 3rd lap of the race Farquhar tucked the front end of his bike as he and Cooper headed towards the Black Hill section of the track as Farquhar slid off he slid into the path of Cooper who had nowhere to go but over Farquhar. Cooper suffered 2 dislocated shoulders in the incident unfortunately Farquhar’s injuries were far more serious but thankfully he is now in a stable condition and set to make a full recovery. Ivan Lintin was handed the victory for this race with James Hiller second and Jeremy McWilliams third but this was disputed by Martin Jessop as he had slowed due to the incident happening in front of him the red flag was slow in coming out and so the while he had slowed the race technically continued to run.
Saturday began with the 2nd supersport race of the week this one was a little more pedestrian compared to thursday race with Seeley taking the lead early on and breaking the group behind. The real battle was behind him with 6 riders all battling for 2 podium positions, this battle continued for the first 3 laps with riders swapping positions every lap. Lap 3 saw the first of the retirements with W.Dunlop pulling out first the next lap saw Ian Hutchinson pull out of the race with a issue with his bike. These retirements left Martin Jessop and Lee Johnston battling over 2nd and 3rd but Lee Johnston had been given a 10 secs penalty for cutting the Mclean Chicane after a move by Hutchinson forced him to sit up and run on this penalty in my opinion was unwarranted as Johnston lost time going through the Chicane and gained no positions by cutting it. The penalty for Lee Johnston gave Peter Hickman the 3rd podium position and young Malachai Mitchell Thomas 4th place. Away from all the penalties Seeley ran away with this race and won his 17th race at the North West cementing his place as the king of the North West.
The next race ran was the Superstock race that had been cancelled on thursday night Ian Hutchinson was many people pre race favourite due to his time on the bike in the British Superstock Championship.
The race ran much the same as the Supersport races had before them with 5 or 6 riders all stuck together at the front swapping places on the straights each lap. The same group of Seeley,Hutchinson,Hickman,M.Dunlop and Rutter were all together going onto the last lap as they headed into Metropole Seeley out braked himself running wide allowing Hutchinson who had been pressuring Seeley the whole lap to go through into first and Hickman to take second with Seeley having to settle for third. This was Hutchinson’s first win at the North West since 2009 setting a new lap record in the process.
The Superbike race was next on the card after qualifying it was anticipated that this would be a duel between M.Dunlop and Seeley for the win. Again the race the top 6 riders were all together on lap 1 and as they headed into the university corner Seeley tired to out brake Rutter in but broke to late and had to run on and lost the tow of the front group dropping to 16th place.
Meanwhile at the front M.Dunlop was breaking away and showing everyone just what he is capable of when he is happy on a bike setting a new lap record destroying the previous one held by Josh Brookes. Ian Hutchinson was second but was suffering with gearbox issues and had no answer for the hard charging Dunlop and Rutter was third fending of the challenge of Hickman. The race was unfortunately red flagged on lap 5 due to Bruce Anstey crashing Anstey had been at the front and set a speed trap record with a speed of 209 mph earlier in the race,Seeley managed to climb to 8th place setting ast laps times only bettered by those of M.Dunlop.
The next race of the day turned to be the last for the most tragic of circumstances. The race began with a depleted grid due to the incident on thursday night and also the rule that riders are only able to take part in 5 races in a day. Ivan Lintin lead them away and took a commanding lead on lap one he was followed by Martin Jessop and Malachai Mitchell Thomas who was shown real potential throughout the whole week. Unfortunately on lap two Malachai crashed at the same spot as the incident on thursday night took place sadly Malachai died the race was obviously red flagged and the event as a mark of respect was cancelled.
Malachi Mitchell Thomas was an extremely talented motorbike rider at only 20 years old he was set to become of the sports top stars. Having made the transition from supermoto he took part in his first road race only 2 years ago and from then went on to showcase his talents on the roads. He joined the John Burrows team this year taking part in the local road races scoring podiums at all the races held so far this year beating more experienced competitors and gaining new fans each time out. Sadly we will never get to see him realize his full talent but the impact he had in his short time will live long in the memory of all that saw him race and met him my thoughts are with him family and friends at this time.
Thanks so much to @ for all the pictures check out his stuff here http://rjd-photography.weebly.com/