Glenn Irwin does NW200 Superbike victory double amid Dunlop tyre furore

Glenn Irwin does the Superbike double for a third consecutive North West 200 but en masse withdrawal of Dunlop-shod motorcycles overshadow event

Glenn Irwin - Honda Racing CBR1000RR [credit: North West 200 Pacemaker]

Glenn Irwin has extended his winning streak at the North West 200 with a resounding double victory in the Superbike class for Honda, as scores of riders - including Peter Hickman - were forced to end their event early on safety grounds.

The first NW200 to take place since 2019, Irwin - who makes his Isle of Man TT debut at the end of the month - came into his home round as the man to beat, both as a title contender in the British Superbike Championship and as the double winner in 2018 and 2019.

Beginning from six-lap encounters from pole position, Irwin promptly lived up to his billing to march to a comfortable victory in both on the factory-backed Honda CBR1000RR-R.

However, his success was overshadowed by a farcical situation unfolding among many of his closest rivals after several riders using Dunlop-shod tyres reported issues with the rear. Investigations by Dunlop subsequently revealed a fault, forcing it to withdraw each of its entries for the second race.

This included Peter Hickman (FHO BMW), Dean Harrison (DAO Kawasaki), Michael Rutter (Bathams BMW), Davey Todd, Connor Cummins (Milenco Padgett’s Honda), Lee Johnston (Ashcourt Yamaha), Sam West (Moto Hub BMW) and Brian McCormack (FHO BMW).

North West 200 Race 1

In Race 1, Irwin got the hole shot from pole position and protected his advantage over the course of the opening lap, tailed by fellow Honda rider Todd, who ascended to second when Hickman ran on at University, the first indication that all was not well with the tyres.

Todd struck for Irwin’s lead on lap three, the pair engaging in a back-and-forth into lap four when the Ulsterman surged back ahead on his Metzeler-shod machine. It was a dice that continued into the final revolution, with Todd diving past at Magherabuoy, only to run wide at Metropole.

That allowed Irwin back through to spur him onto victory over Todd, who would later be denied a rematch by the issues facing Dunlop.

Richard Cooper completed the podium on the Hawk Suzuki, ahead of Josh Brookes, the Australian making a strong impression on his return to road racing having been a late addition to the grid on the MCE Ducati.

Supersport and Superstock winner Alastair Seeley had to make do with fifth on the IFS Yamaha, with Conor Cummins, James Hillier, Michael Rutter, Ian Hutchinson and Nathan Harrison completing the top ten.

North West 200 Race 2

With only 22 of the original starters taking to the grid for Race 2 following Dunlop’s en masse withdrawal, Irwin appeared to face an easier task against a depleted front-level line-up.

And so it proved, Irwin again holding onto the early lead from a chasing Cooper and steadily extending his advantage to a winning margin of 2.4secs by the end.

Completing a fifth and sixth consecutive Superbike win for Irwin, it also means he has achieved three back-to-back doubles on different machines having won in 2018 on the Ducati Panigale V-Twin and in 2019 on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR.

Cooper secured another podium in a successful week that also yielded two wins in the Supertwins class, while Brookes’ strong road racing comeback was rewarded with a deserved podium.

Ian Hutchinson and John McGuinness rounded out the top five.