Ryan Farquhar took a superb victory in the inaugural Supertwins race at the international North West 200 on Thursday evening and it proved to be a superb day for his KMR Kawasaki team with team-mates Jeremy McWilliams and Michael Rutter completing the podium in second and third. With Jamie Hamilton finishing in sixth place, it was a monumentous achievement by Ryan and his team, arguably one of the finest moments of his illustrious career.
The 4-lap Supertwins race was the final race on Thursday evening and the rain that had plagued much of the day returned, making tyre choice a lottery and there were all manner of combinations as the field left the line. The early part of the opening lap saw Ryan exchange places with James Hillier (whose chassis had also been prepared by Ryan) but he hit the front for good at the Magic Roundabout and was never again headed. Pulling out enough of a gap to control the race, Ryan's lead was up to 5 seconds at one stage but he maintained a gap of 2-3 seconds for the majority of the race around the 8.9-mile circuit and eventually took the chequered flag 2.9s clear of former GP ace McWilliams for his third NW200 win.
Image: Stephen Davison - Pacemaker Press International
McWilliams was making his public roads debut but it never showed and the class of the GP winner could clearly be seen as he battled hard with Adrian Archibald. There was never more than inches between the two riders but on the final lap, it became a four-way battle for second with both Rutter and Hillier closing in. The quartet changed places with frequent regularity but McWilliams grabbed second at Metropole and when Hillier ran wide, Rutter was able to seize third place. Despite running with dry tyres, Rutter closed in on McWilliams along the coast road but had to settle for third although with three KMR Kawasaki's on the podium, there was joy all round. Hamilton was also in close contention for the first part of the race but dropped back to sixth by the end, which was a still a superb race on his full NW200 debut.
Speaking later, a delighted, and emotional, Ryan commented; "This is without doubt one of the best moments of my career and to be sitting here with a 1-2-3 at the North West 200 is something special. People laughed at me when I first started riding in the class but here we are now with a clean sweep of the podium and with world class riders Jeremy and Michael riding KMR Kawasaki's - it's a very special feeling. I've obviously been heavily involved in the class and knew the potential of the bikes so to see them included at the NW200 and TT in itself was superb but for me to have won today and have Jeremy, Michael and Jamie in second, third and sixth is a dream come true - I'm absolutely over the moon."
"I think we've really shown today how good the class is and I'd go as far as saying it's the best win I've ever had. It was a difficult race though with the weather conditions and tyre choice was very difficult but I was happy with what I went with and once I got to the front I was able to keep a decent gap and control the race as best I could. For Jeremy to finish 2nd on his debut is unbelievable whilst what Michael did on dry tyres was equally special. It just shows what a class rider he is and at the TT he's going to be the man to beat for sure. Jamie did another great job as well and is as much a part of today's success as everyone else so we'll savour the result and whatever happens on Saturday will be a bonus."
In the earlier 6-lap Superstock race, Ryan ran in second place for much of the race but as the track dried in the final third of the race he found himself in a frantic four-rider dice for the runners-up spot. There was little to choose between Ryan, Lee Johnston, Cameron Donald and Stefano Bonetti and on the final lap the positions changed at almost every corner, the quartet sometimes approaching them four abreast! On the final run along the coast road, Ryan was back in fourth and although he tried to ride around the outside of Donald as they headed to the chequered flag, he had to settle for fourth just 0.1s behind his Australian rival. Hamilton, meanwhile, had been running on the edge of the top 20 for much of the race but was unluckily forced to retire on the final lap.
Phil Wain - Freelance PR