North West 200: Alastair Seeley dominates opening practice session

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NW 200 record holder Alastair Seeley says 'more to come' from Superbike
North West 200 international road races
Dates: Tuesday 9 May-Saturday 13 May Venue: Triangle Circuit, Portstewart, Coleraine, Portrush
Coverage: All practices and races live on the BBC sport website and BBC Radio Ulster; Highlights on BBC One NI Friday 12 May, Sunday 14 May and Monday 15 May

Event record holder Alastair Seeley dominated Tuesday's opening practice session at the North West 200.

Seeley, 37, was fastest in the Supersport and Superbike classes and was second quickest in the Superstock standings behind Michael Rutter.

Martin Jessopp was fastest in the Supertwins class.

Cumbrian rider Chris Dixon was taken to hospital in Belfast after sustaining what organisers described as "non life-threatening leg fractures".

The incident at Black Hill during Supersport qualifying led to the session being delayed for around an hour as Dixon was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital.

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Michael Dunlop happy with his opening practice times at North West 200

Carrickfergus man Seeley produced a fastest Supersport lap of 114.722 mph on his Gearlink Kawasaki.

Seeley's Tyco BMW was then quickest in the Superbike class as his time of 121.81 put him ahead of Michael Rutter.

"The superbike felt good but I didn't go mad out there today," said Seeley.

"I got tucked in behind John McGuinness and Glenn Irwin on my last lap and passed both of them on track to set my fastest time."

Seeley's Supersport time left him ahead of Englishman Dean Harrison (114.166) and Fermanagh rider Lee Johnston (113.717), with Martin Jessopp, John McGuinness and Michael Dunlop completing the top six.

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Michael Dunlop tries Rossi-style foot down approach at North West 200 practice

Dunlop opted for a Valentino Rossi-style foot down approach on his Supersport laps as he wrestled with his Yamaha bike.

Ballymoney man Dunlop (120.65) was then third quickest in the Superbike session as Seeley topped the leaderboard ahead of Rutter (121.09).

Dunlop was having his first competitive outing on his new Suzuki and said that he was still struggling to find his optimum bike set-up.

"I need as much time on the bike as I can get." said Dunlop.

"But we aren't a million miles away after today and there is still a lot more to come from me and the bike."

In the final Superstock session, Seeley was pipped for provisional pole as Michael Rutter produced the fastest time of the day with Lee Johnston third fastest and Ian Hutchinson next best.

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Guy Martin says NW 200 return 'a means to an end' as he builds up towards the TT

Rutter's lap was 122.025, with Seeley marginally behind with his 121.96.

"I am surprised to have been second on the big bike because it was handling so badly," said a rejuvenated Rutter, 45.

"We will need to make some adjustments for Thursday's session but I am delighted to have been fastest on the stocker."

Seeley is the most successful rider in North West 200 history having clinched 17 victories at the Northern Ireland road racing meeting.

Jessopp topped the Supertwins session with a best lap of 108.91 which left him ahead of Rutter (108.30) and Ivan Lintin (107.88), as Lee Johnston, Dan Cooper and James Cowton completed the top six.

Guy Martin made his return to the international roads aboard the new Honda Fireblade but the Lincolnshire man struggled, finishing 19th place in the Superbike session.

TUESDAY'S VAUXHALL NORTH WEST 200 PRACTICE TIMES

Superbike
1. A SeeleyBMW121.81 mph
2. M RutterBMW121.09
3. M DunlopSuzuki120.65
4. I HutchinsonBMW119.69
5. G IrwinDucati119.58
6. M JessoppBMW119.04
Supersport
1. A SeeleyKawasaki114.722 mph
2. D HarrisonKawasaki114.166
3. L JohnstonHonda113.717
4. M JessoppTriumph113.28
5. J McGuinnessHonda112.95
6. M DunlopYamaha112.38
Superstock
1. M RutterBMW122.025 mph
2. A SeeleyBMW121.96
3. L JohnstonHonda121.177
4. I HutchinsonBMW120.278
5. D HarrisonKawasaki120.055
6. M JessoppBMW119.44
Supertwins
1. M JessoppKawasaki108.91 mph
2. M RutterKawasaki108.30
3. I LintinKawasaki107.88
4. L JohnstonKawasaki107.75
5. D CooperKawasaki106.61
6. J CowtonKawasaki106.51

Event schedule

Thursday 11 May - Roads close for practice from 09:15 to 15:00 and from 17:00 to 21:00 for racing

Race 1 - Supersport (6 laps); Race 2 - Superstock (6 laps); Race 3 - Supertwin (4 laps).

Saturday 13 May - Roads close for racing from 09:15 BST to 21:00

Race 1 - Supersport (6 laps); Race 2- Superbike (7 laps); Race 3 - Supertwin (4 laps); Race 4 - Superbike (7 laps); Race 5 - Superstock (6 laps).

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