The international road racing season has begun: the North West 200 was the first major event on this year’s calendar. BMW riders enjoyed an extremely successful race week in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. They celebrated a top-four lock-out and a one-two finish in the Superstock races, as well as one second place and one third place to reach the podium in the Superbike events. As the North West 200 is part of the BMW Combined Road Race Challenge (BMW RRC), points are scored in the BMW Motorrad Race Trophy.
The action in the 1000cc classes began on Thursday with the first Superstock race which was dominated by BMW riders as they celebrated a top-four lock-out. Peter Hickman (GBR) claimed his first North West 200 victory with the Team Smiths Racing BMW. On the final lap, Hickman pulled off a brave overtaking manoeuvre to pass Tyco BMW rider Alastair Seeley (GBR), who had been in the lead up to that point. Seeley finished in second position, 0.5 seconds behind. Michael Dunlop (GBR / MD Racing / Tyco BMW Motorrad) was just another half-second behind in third place, also reaching the podium. The top-four lock-out was completed by Michael Rutter (GBR) on his Bathams Racing BMW.
Saturday is traditionally the main race day at the North West 200. The first Superbike race was the opening event on the schedule and Rutter reached the podium, finishing in third place. In fact, Seeley had crossed the line in third position. However, a five-second penalty for a jump start saw him slip to fifth in the final standings.
Next up was the Saturday race in the Superstock class. Hickman and Seeley delivered another enthralling duel for the lead. This time it was Seeley, who has won at least one race at the North West 200 every year since 2008 and holds the record for NW200 wins, who prevailed. The Tyco BMW rider crossed the line first, 0.186 seconds ahead of Hickman in second. Dunlop finished fourth, missing out on a podium by two-tenths of a second.
The North West 200 concluded with the Feature Superbike Race on Saturday – Dunlop did reach the podium that time, finishing second on his Tyco BMW S 1000 RR. Martin Jessopp (GBR / Riders Motorcycles BMW) crossed the line fourth, just 0.2 seconds behind the third-placed rider.
Peter Hickman: “I’m naturally delighted to have won my first NW200 Superstock race and the team deserved it as much as me as they’ve worked incredibly hard and given me a great bike. I timed it perfectly in the first race and thought I’d done the same in the second as I tried to get a gap – only for Alastair to brake later than I thought possible at the final chicane. In both Superbike races, I made really good starts but had a problem with the rear tyre that forced me out. Then in the second, a stone got flicked up and it went through the fairing and then through the radiator pipe which was incredibly unlucky. But overall, it’s been a solid enough meeting ahead of the Isle of Man TT.”
Philip Neill (Team Manager Tyco BMW): “A fantastic showcase of racing on the beautiful North Coast and we managed to add to our race win record which now stands at 28. We did have a challenge this year with set up and a few niggly problems, but the Superstock race win for Alastair was superb and a second place for Michael in the feature Superbike race in his first major race with Tyco BMW was a fantastic end to the day’s racing. Overall we head to the Isle of Man TT with optimism and hope to reward our sponsors Tyco and BMW with further podium success.”