REIGNING Superstock winner Peter Hickman powered to victory in the first stocker race of the week as he beat Glenn Irwin by almost two seconds.
Smith’s Racing’s lone ranger controlled nearly the entire race to take his second North West 200 victory with time to spare.
But it was disaster for Dean Harrison in the battle for second as he lost the front at University with just over a lap to go, putting paid to hopes of another podium after his Supersport runner-up finish earlier this evening.
Quattro Plant Kawasaki’s Irwin stormed off the start to take the holeshot and immediately stretched a lead over team-mate James Hillier before Hillier caught up with his Kawasaki compatriot and hit the front at University.
But Hickman had tagged onto the back of them as he was joined by Harrison in a four-way fight out front as Irwin squeezed up the inside of Hickman at Mather’s Cross before he and Hickman entered a ding-dong battle as the pack came around to complete lap one.
As the BMW Rider led the way heading to University on lap two, it was a Kwak battle behind as Harrison threw his hand in and started to have a look at Irwin, while Hillier dropped off to the chasing pack just ahead of Honda Racing’s Ian Hutchinson in fifth.
Back at the front, Hickman had pulled a 1.2sec lead over the line as the front-runners began lap three of six, while Irwin finally found a way past Harrison at University and began hunting down Hickman.
As the leading trio hit the coast road, Hickman stretched his gap to almost 2.5sec while Harrison and Irwin continued to dice for second, allowing the Lincolnshire rider to build an even bigger advantage out front.
Irwin and Harrison’s battle came to an end on lap five, however, when the Bradford ace hit the tarmac at University and slid into a field, but luckily walked away from his downed ZX-10.
And despite Irwin being freed up to put the hammer down and give chase, Hickman cruised across the line with 1.895sec to spare ahead of Irwin, while MD Racing’s Michael Dunlop held off Hillier to take third.
Ashcourt Racing’s Lee Johnston beat Buildbase Suzuki’s rookie Richard Cooper to fifth while PreZ Racing’s Jamie Coward bagged a lone sixth.
WH Racing man Daley Mathison, RK Racing’s Irishman Derek Sheils and Dafabet Devitt Racing rider Paul Jordan completed the top 10.
Retirements included Gary Johnson, Horst Saiger, Michael Rutter and Ian Hutchinson.
*Image: Derek Wilson