Podium Finish International NW200 Supersport

William worked hard to take a well earned second place in todays International North West 200 Supersport 600 Race from 9th on the grid.

William Dunlop: I am happy things are going in the right direction and being the closest around here to Alastair.

View images of William at the NW200 2017

Podium

  1. A Seeley
  2. W Dunlop
  3. M Dunlop
Read Race Report by Shaun Lewis

Podium finish for William Dunlop at The International North West

It was a week that William may have wanted to put behind him before the weekend arrived at the NW200 when on Tuesday engine issues that have plagued him since the start of the season with his trusted R6 Yamaha IC Caffrey racing machine suffered more engine problems forcing him to pull in before reaching University corner, not the start that he had hoped for. But William got a lift back to the paddock and lifted himself up to get on with the day ahead in glorious sunshine, and he did just that. While the team worked hard to sort out the issues with the R6 William got on with the job and took out his R1 Temple Golf and Country Club SuperStock and SuperBike machines and put them through their paces getting plenty of lap time during the 45 minute sessions, clocking up speeds through the speed trap to university of 199.8 mph 6th fastest on the stocker and 3rd fastest on the Superbike with a speed clocked at 196.9 mph

With Alistair, Barry and Cousin Gary having worked round the clock the R6 was sorted and ready the Thursday qualifying sessions in which William was looking relaxed and back to his distinctive smooth neat riding style. With the sun still shining as it was on Tuesday the conditions were perfect for all riders. First session was the SuperStock and William managed to qualify in 10th place with a lap time of 4:30:996 recording an average lap time of 119:160 and putting him on 3rd row of the grid for the evening’s race. Next up William was out on the Supersport, qualifying in 9th, a great position to be in, not pushing the bike too hard after Tuesdays problems but still ahead of some very strong riders having recorded a lap time of 4:41:090 and an average speed of 114.881 mph, only four and a half seconds behind the front runner. And to wrap up qualifying for the day William took out the SuperBike pushing himself up the leaders board, William qualified in 5th place putting himself on the second row of the grid for Saturday with a lap time of 4:30:151 and a recorded average speed of 119:533 mph, the qualifying session was however cut short due to the serious incident involving John McGuinness who crashed out on Primrose Hill resulting in leg and back Injuries.

After the roads had opened briefly for residents to move around, the roads reclosed and Racing got underway on Thursday evening with the crowds swelling around the North Coast circuit and the sun still shining high in the sky the first Supersport race got underway and after a big battle with his younger brother with James Hillier occasionally being the only rider to come between them at times with was swapping and changing throughout the 6 lap race between the two, it was however William who took bragging rights finishing in 6th place, just over 3 seconds behind the other 5 places but over half a second in front of his sibling, Michael.

Next out was the SuperStock and William was again looking good and riding enviously smooth, however Alistair Seeley the short circuit specialist was too strong for the field and went on to win with William finishing in 8th place taking his tally of top 10 finishes to 2 on the first night.

After the teams got a break on Friday, the weather from the previous days had changed and Friday saw the rain move in to replace the sunshine, the rain continued throughout the night but had eased by Saturday morning and a full day of racing was on the cards. First race out was the Supersport and what an opener for the masses of road racing fans and as William had started from the second row as he got a great start from the off and as they approached and exited York Corner he was sitting tucked behind Ian Hutchinson in 5th. Seeley had opened the gap at the front but William wasn’t going to let him get away, fighting his way through the front runners and as they exited York Corner by the 3rd lap William was sitting in second place, was closing on race leader Alistair Seeley closely followed by his brother Michael and newcomer Adam McLean, all 3 of them bunched together, by the time the little group had reached University Corner William had taken the lead followed by his brother as the had used the slip stream during the long fast straight to pass Seeley, with Mclean still sitting in 4th place. The 3 leaders jostled and changed positions through the next lap couple of laps but as they were ending the fourth lap the rain had started to fall and some of the riders were beginning to hold up their arms, attempting to signal to organisers that the road was becoming dangerous. William however continued his battle with Seeley and Michael throughout the 6th lap and it was William who was again at the front, Seeley himself had signalled with his arm but the race continued out of Ballysally round-a-bout and down towards Mathers, it was William who now eased off slightly to hold up his arm to signal to get the race stopped but the race continued and Seeley snatched the opportunity while William’s arm was off the throttle to take the lead, and regained the advantage and then held on until the chequered flag with William taking 2nd place and Michael taking 3rd, the conclusion to a fantastic opening race, with William one of the first to congratulate Alistair on his hard fought victory.

The Superbikes were due out next and it was going to be a wet race but after Michael Dunlop had had to pull in with an oil leak, the rain became very heavy at times and there was a lengthy delay of over 4 hours with some of the more experience riders refusing to go out in those conditions. As the rain eased the Superbike eventually got underway and William finished in 11th place just a fraction of a second behind Ian Hutchinson in tricky wet conditions.

Next out were the SuperTwins giving some but not all riders a short break before the SuperStock race was next out, and William again took a top ten finish and involved in some great battles among the strong field of riders with less than 2 seconds between the 6th and 10th place.

The final race of the day was the Vauxhall Superbike race and in what was probably considered the best superbike race for quite a few years it was Glen Irwin who spoilt Alastair Seeley’s hopes of cleaning up by taking the top podium and William taking 9th place having chased Dubliner Derek Sheils down throughout the race, he had manged to overtake Derek on the last lap and finished just behind Peter Hickman. William himself was pleased with his machinery and his racing, thanking all of his team and sponsors for their help and dedication. The wee 600 ran like a dream after the boys had worked so hard on it and having been left without a ride on the SuperStocks and SuperBikes until just a few weeks ago both the big bikes that William managed to get hold of are performing well.

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