Glenn Irwin took a thrilling Superbike race win at the International North West 200 after overtaking Quattro Plant Wicked Coatings Kawasaki team-mate James Hillier on the final lap.
The duo, along with Conor Cummins, were only covered by 0.461s at the chequered with Irwin taking his fourth Superbike win in a row and Kawasaki’s first since 1977!
With conditions remaining wet all round the circuit, Hillier opted to take out his Superstock machine and although Irwin led into York Corner and for the first half of the lap, Hillier hit the front at Metropole. Cummins, meanwhile, had dropped to the back of the first group after spinning up on the line but was already up to fifth at the end of the first lap.
Second time around, Hillier extended his lead to 0.8s with the Superstock-spec ZX-10RR getting better drive out of the corners with Irwin closing in once he’d got the Superbike up to top speed. Cummins had climbed up to third on the Padgetts Milenco Honda aided by the quickest speed trap time of 196.3mph.
Further back, Derek Sheils was holding off Alastair Seeley for fourth with newcomer Richard Cooper in a fine sixth ahead of privateer Matthew Rees. Michael Dunlop pulled in at the end of the first lap with Gary Johnson doing likewise after two laps.
Back at the head of the field, Hillier continued to lead as Irwin and Cummins continued to contest second but as they headed into the fourth lap of the shortened race, Hillier’s lead was down to just half a second. Sheils had edged away from Seeley with Michael Rutter now up to seventh.
The final lap looked like it would see Hillier hold on for his first NW200 win but Irwin had other ideas although it wasn’t until the Juniper chicane that he finally sealed the position. Hillier took his eighth NW200 podium, the fifth time he’s finished in second place with Cummins completing the rostrum in third.
Sheils took fourth ahead of Seeley and Cooper as Rutter, Rees, Lukas Maurer and Tom Weeden rounded out the top ten. John McGuinness finished in 11th on the Norton whilst Peter Hickman and Dean Harrison both decided conditions weren’t suitable for the 200bhp Superbikes.