North West 200: Irwin steals opening Superbike win from Hillier

In News, North West 200, Roads

GLENN Irwin battled past James Hillier in a last-lap dash to steal victory in the first Superbike race of the weekend.

The Quattro Plant Wicked Coatings Kawasaki rider stole the lead in the final corners to hold on while his team-mate, who opted for a Superstock machine in the wet conditions, fell less than two tenths of a second short.

Irwin got the strongest start from pole position, but Seeley had slipped ahead by the time they crested Primrose Hill while Tyco BMW’s Michael Dunlop and rookie Richard Cooper tucked into fourth and fifth.

Back at the front, Irwin got back ahead as he and Seeley went into Station, while just behind James Hillier, on a Stocker, had passed Derek Sheils to slot into third.

Hillier got the run out of Mather’s to power past Seeley and make it a Kawasaki one-two before passing his team-mate to take the lead as the TT star crossed the line with a half-second advantage just before Cummins began hunting the two front-runners down after passing Sheils and Seeley for third.

Meanwhile, early promise was put to bed for Dunlop as he pulled into the pits on the TAS Superbike and called off his challenge.

In the fight for the lead, Hillier was still in control as he and Irwin crossed the line to begin lap three of four, but Cummins had found his way onto the back of them and the Manxman soon began having a look at Irwin.

Hillier held his advantage and started the final lap with a half second to spare over Irwin and despite the British Superbike ace closing his team-mate down into York, Hillier again pulled away on the power before Irwin out-braked him at Magheraboy.

While Hillier immediately hit back at Metropole to grab the top spot, Irwin dived up the inside at Juniper and fended off Hillier’s final advances to take victory, leaving Cummins to third.

*Click here for results from the 2019 North West 200

*Image: Double Red

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