After a three-year wait, the North West 200 roared back into the coastal town of Portstewart this week, and it proved a dominant week of racing for METZELER riders, with seven wins coming from RACETEC RR Slick and road-legal RACETEC™ RR equipped riders across the Superbike, Supersport, Superstock and Supertwin races.
As the first major Road Race since 2019, the opening day of practice on Tuesday saw riders take time to dial themselves back into the high-speed nature of the 8.9 miles North West 200 circuit. With the weather remaining dry for qualifying on Thursday, it saw lap times tumble, and it was a clean sweep of pole positions for METZELER riders, as Richard Cooper topped the Supertwin qualifying, with Alastair Seeley taking Supersport pole and Glenn Irwin Superstock. In the blue-riband Superbike class, Irwin took that even further with an incredible ride to set the then fastest-ever lap to claim pole.
Cold and wet weather greeted the riders for the opening evening of racing, but despite the tricky conditions, North West 200 specialist Seeley dominated proceedings. The opening Supersport race saw him battling throughout the four-lap race, eventually taking the win by 1.984s. Fellow METZELER rider Jeremy McWilliams made it a memorable race, with the 58-year-old taking third place.
The Superstock race was a different affair, with Seeley controlling the race from the front, taking the win by 12.894s. Despite it only being his second year at the event, Cooper was able to claim third place to make it four podium finishes from the six available on Thursday. With the weather deteriorating, the opening Supertwin race was pushed to Saturday.
Thankfully, the main race day dawned with beautiful blue skies and warm weather, ensuring near-perfect conditions for the six races. Kick-starting the day in perfect style, Pierre Yves Bian took victory in the opening Supertwin race ahead of Paul Jordan, while Joe Loughlin would win the second race in the afternoon, joined once again by McWilliams in third.
The first of the Superbike races proved one of the best races of the week, with Irwin going head-to-head with Davey Todd, with the duo continuously swapping places throughout the six laps. Coming down to the final lap, Irwin found a way through at Metropole corner, seeing him become the first rider to win five North West 200 Superbike races in a row.
The second of the Superstock races saw a similar performance from Seeley on the IFS Racing Yamaha. Fending off an early race challenge, he was able to make full use of his road-legal RACETEC RR over the six laps to take his third win of the weekend and his 27th around the iconic course.
With the Superbike feature race being held over seven laps, safety concerns related to competitor tyres saw only METZELER riders advised to compete. Just as he did in the opening race, Irwin launched off the line to control the race from the front, being closely pushed by the impressive Cooper on the Hawk Racing Suzuki. The Honda rider was able to eventually pull away to take his sixth consecutive North West 200 Superbike win, with each victory coming on METZELER RACETEC™ RR Slick tyres. Completing the podium in third was Josh Brookes, who made his first return to the event since 2014.
METZELER UK Racing Manager Jason Griffiths: “A huge crowd witnessed this amazing spectacle on the North Coast today. Our thanks to the Metzeler riders for their fantastic performances. Alastair Seeley produced a masterclass of wet weather riding on Thursday night to take a double victory, while Richard Cooper showed his class across multiple classes and Glenn Irwin continued his domination of the Superbike class at the event, achieving a winning debut for the new Metzeler partnership with Honda Racing. The conditions encountered across the practice sessions and the races meant the full Metzeler racing range was in action this week. Taking all the pole positions in itself was an achievement and the race results are, of course, incredible. The quality work carried out by the R&D team and of course the Metzeler manufacturing facility cannot be overlooked. A real team effort.”
Head here to see all the results from the 2022 North West 200…