The Vauxhall International Northwest 200 gets under way at one of the world's most famous motorcycle road race circuits. Presented by Stephen Watson.
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The north Atlantic coastline of Northern Ireland is a beautiful
sight. Miles and miles of stunning views, seaside towns, historical
ruins and world-famous landmarks like here at the Giants Causeway.
But in the month of May every year it's the roads that provide all the
entertainment and excitement. Normally open to the public, nine
miles are closed for motorcycle racing.
And this is a event like no other. This is the international North West
200. Road racing is one of Northern
Ireland's oldest sporting traditions. A glorious evening. They
have been racing here for over 80 years. On the straights and through
the countryside. At speeds of over 200 mph. Welcome to highlights of
this year 's international North West 200. One of Northern Ireland's
biggest and best sporting events. Many of the giants of motorcycle
road racing are here to provide some exciting, exhilarating
entertainment. Here are some of the contenders. Michael Dunlop, one of
the biggest crowd puller is in road racing. Martin Jessopp is a talented
Englishman who is in search of his first Northwest win.
After a year of injury, Lee Johnston is fit again and back to his best.
Dean Harrison has made a fast start to this season, he's looking for his
first North West podium. And Alistair Seeley, the master of the
circuit, he is the event record holder with 17 victories.
Alistair Seeley is in pole position for this, the first race of the
event, for Supersport machines. These talented riders will race
around this unique circuit which wind its way through the three towns
of Portstewart, Coleraine and Portrush. Slipstreaming on the
ultrafast straights is key and mastering the Coast Road section
vital. Who will be successful in this first race? I am joined by
Michael Laverty, is Alistair Seeley beatable? Does not look so today,
looks on top form but there is pedigree on this grid. You have got
the store words and then people like Ian Hutchinson, William Dunlop,
anyone could win, slipstream play such a part. Once they get into the
white, six laps, anything could happen. Michael Dunlop on the
Yamaha. He's been looking comfortable on the 600 and the rest
Superbike, he could definitely deliver. Once he gets in the mix and
gets the adrenaline pumping having him happen. Thank you, time to join
the commentary team, Steve Parish and Richard Nicholls. COMMENTATOR:
Time for the first race of the 2017 North West 200 international with
Alistair Seeley the favourite and an pole position at head of Lee Johnson
and Michael Dunlop. Martin Jessopp on the Triumph, Dean Harrison and
James Hillier on the second row. Lots of famous names. Perfect
practice conditions so everyone's bike is Dale Bennett, or so it
should be. Lee Johnson, Alistair Seeley getting squeezed out a little
bit. Lee Johnson got the start there. Going over the top of
Primrose Hill down towards York road. Martin Jessopp at the front by
quite a mile. They are trying to get it sorted out here, from this point
of view it looks like they have, Alistair Seeley squeezing up the
inside. Up to the roundabout, Guy Martin, started from the second
wave. Guy Martin back road racing but not having it all his own way,
he's been away quite a long time and not really used to be. The start on
board with James Cowton, look how busy it is. Bruce almost got his
handlebar tangled up. We are on board with Alistair Seeley. There
goes the new Yamaha, should be fast. But the Kawasaki going well. Martin
Jessopp out in the lead by some margin, going over the crest, that
was how they started, look where Alistair Seeley was, back in fourth.
Now in second place and closing I think. Lee Johnson in there. Oh my
goodness. Michael Dunlop isn't it? Alistair Seeley is going backwards,
he is right down, going backwards through the pack. Guy Martin leading
the second wave as you would expect from a rider of his stature. On
board with Dean Harrison, Alistair Seeley in front of us. Martin
Jessopp still out in front. Alistair Seeley not running at the pace we
would expect. It's not what we normally see from him. Nice
out-braking move, still on board with Alistair Seeley, church Corner,
getting his way through. Michael Dunlop in front of us. Alistair
Seeley trying everything he can, we would expect him to be at the front
but he's dropped into fourth place and there is Dean Harrison. They
have been struggling with that as they brushed shoulders, Martin
Jessopp is so committed to this. Yamaha leading the Triumph. In third
place... Year comes Seeley through the inside, Martin Jessopp did not
know he was there. Martin Dunlop squeezed out. It's still Hutchy that
leads. Trying so hard, cannot get past Hutchy, Seeley right in touch.
This is how they came over the top. Poetry in motion. Seeley, his bike
does not seem that fast at the moment but he still using the
slipstream, Michael Dunlop on the other Yamaha. He's pulled over, he's
got a problem, what a shame for him, starting on pole position. Martin
Jessopp from Ian Hutchinson, Dean Harrison hanging in there. Martin
Jessopp never won a North West 200 race. He's been there or thereabouts
so this would be something special. James Cowton having a quieter time
of it now. Harrison up the inside of Lee Johnson. Look at the focus on
Dean Harrison's face. The Triumph Daytona sounds beautiful, three
cylinder machine. What a special day this would be for Martin Jessopp on
the Triumph. Alistair Seeley not having the special day his band is
expected, coming here looking for a win number 18, 19 and beyond for
Alistair Seeley but it looks like Martin Jessopp distilling his
blunder, Alistair Seeley into the pit lane. Just started losing power,
braking down and coming in and braking down. I was contemplating
just pulling over because it's kind of dangerous around here to be
cutting out and in so I started short shifting thinking would clear
itself but it was getting worse. Had a good look and then it home. I
don't know what the problem is but it's unfortunate. He is hiding his
disappointment well, you know that will hurt him. Very much so, but it
is still the Yamaha of Hutchy, brand-new bike, they brought the old
one but the new one is going all right. Look at that. Having a good
look, Jessopp has dropped back into third place. There is going to be
some slipstreaming going on this time around. Dean Harrison right in
the mix behind Hutchy, Martin Jessopp still in it, Lee Johnson
fourth, it's not over yet. Michael Dunlop is there as well. Hutchy
leads them into another lap, has the bike come good? He has switched to
Dunlop tyres so he is readjusting his brain. Decided to move over to
the Dunlops, said it takes some sorting out with suspension and
needs all the suspension as you can see over the jumps and bumps here.
Looking on the brakes, Jessopp still good, four as they come through
here, Dean Harrison Kawasaki, or listen to the engine screaming,
about 15,000 rpm. Harrison out of the slipstream, Jessopp getting a
better tour from behind. Went for the inside. Who is going to give in?
Look at that, Jessopp getting peppered by the stones in the middle
of the track. Jessopp, look at that, the diminutive Lee Johnson coming
through, on the other side, look how close they are, these bikes doing
175 mph. I think Lee Johnson is loving it the most at the moment but
Martin Jessopp, that Triumph, it's got the edge. Seven of them all in a
bunch. Unreal, it looks like partridges as they hurtle down into
there. Lee Johnson has shuffled well down the order. Tremendous stuff.
Really is very special seeing them battling it out. On board with James
Cowton. Accelerating out. It is bumpy. Still Jessopp, Dean Harrison
and look down there. Look at them, swapping places like this is short
circuit racing, that is why you get the 600's out first and everyone is
entertained. Hutchy about to get mugged, Jessopp is clear, Hutchy
hangs onto second place. On board with Dean Harrison as we come up to
Church Corner, second gear corner. Jessopp has got this sorted, Hutchy
is not close enough through the chicane. Look at them, one, two,
three, four, five, that close. It is going to be Jessopp's first mend
mac. Coming through, Martin Jessopp on the Triumph going through, cannot
believe, how long ago was it Triumph won Horatio? Many years ago. We were
both youngsters but that is the confirmation.
Congratulations, your first North West 200 win? I'm lost for words a
bit, put in so much work, it's a family run team, me and my old man
and all my mates come along, whenever I want a result, we don't
have big sponsors so when we get a result I am so chuffed not for
myself but my boys, put in so much work every year for me and to play
them with a win, it's one of many hopefully.
Three English riders, first North West 200 podium. Could we get
another one? Michael looks as though he has come to race, it has been a
dry spell but he definitely looks as though he is at home, and has got
the fight back in the belly. Hopefully we can see him
challenging. The Northern Ireland title, two experienced guys, the
biggest challengers? Both Alistair Seeley and Hutchinson, have looked
experience, both of them racing week in week out, big fight with BMWs,
and Harrison would strong. It should be another cracker. Expecting a
cracker. Certainly. And Alistair Seeley, the lap record holder. Pole.
34. BMW. Row two... And make all Dunlop, as well as the man from
worked in Spain. It looks like the BMW first. Getting ready for the
start of the secondaries of the evening. The Northwest 200. The
board raised. Watch the lights. This is it. Unleashing about 200
horsepower. Alistair Seeley getting away. Rutter got the drop. Harrison
goes alongside Johnston. They know each other well. Going through
Primrose Hull. And what about the 45-year-old, having that new lease
of life. Leads out of the corner. Must have been having the porridge
at the hotel! William Dunlop has not had a happy week so far. Does not
look happy. Perfect conditions. The track temperature, 25 degrees.
Second wave away. Through station corner. 185mph. Just look at that.
Could not quite seafood that was. Slipstream at work. Everybody coming
past. And he has been passed by everybody. Absolutely. Alistair
Seeley, the wizard, but he has gone white. How lucky was that? The
pavement. Alistair Seeley has lost an enormous amount of time. I do not
know what happened. Cheeky recovery from the was. Going to be talking
about that and eight. It has cost him the chance possibly of 18th win.
Out the frame. An just looked at this. I am trying to work out, I
think he has missed a gear. When you do that, you do not have engine
break. Pavement there! That was perfect. I do not know if that was
rehearsed. Everybody has made a note of that. And Michael Dunlop, going
very deep. Extremely deep. I do not know what is going on. And Harrison,
number nine, on the outside. Very much. Back through again. Rutter,
11. Looking good in these lovely conversions this evening. And bang
in for seems reinvigorated. Absolutely bang in form. Key has
never not been competitive, he just tries not to let that shall in
public. But he desperately wants to win. That has not gone away. And
Johnston, you can see him coming out of that at fourth gear. What has
Alistair Seeley got up his sleeve? Difficult job to try to come
through. This is Dunlop, the Yamaha... Then machine that he has
borrowed back from last year. Going down to York Road corner, Sweeney
behind him. Johnston. Fine view. Rutter out in front. I think that
was a problem. That was more than slipstream. He was slowing.
Unfortunately, we saw that Suzuki, playing around with the suspension.
Alistair Seeley backed out in front. Rutter in trouble. Johnston chasing
Harrison. Rutter we think has pulled out. We saw Dunlop go. And these
three, battling for the podium. Alistair Seeley has got this nailed.
He has got some fast laps, back on board with Dunlop, going through the
chicane, trying to keep that front wheel on the ground. Just about 200
horsepower. Look at this. Alistair Seeley, has just pulled the pin.
Away. Absolutely. You do not see Alistair Seeley raiding weight that
often. -- riding like that. Could that be second place settled? I do
not think it is. Both of them, good mates. Hang out together. Doing that
here, at the Northwest 200. Going to be enjoying this. And Harrison,
number nine. But Alistair Seeley looks like use on his way. Lap times
down all the while. He has got the record but I am certain that he is
going to blast that. He is also the gap, blasting never mind managing
it. Perhaps losing some time, battling among themselves, Johnston
not looking too hard over the shoulder but dropping back. Yes.
Crowd in the sunshine. Alistair Seeley again, the wee wizard. Going
into that tight roundabout. Heads off. And looked at the style.
Underneath the screen, even when he has the bike leant over. Shifting
body weight. That was extremely well-behaved, compared to earlier.
On the gas here. You have got to be. These production bikes have got
better electronics than the super qui. They have got the downshift,
quick flippers, traction control and you can adjust how you want.
Hillier. Oh! Jamie squeezed out. I think Jamie outbreaked it. Lap
record blasted. Number 34, Alistair Seeley, taking that old record. And
Harrison has just taken his old mate, Johnston, in the slip stream.
You can almost see the shadow. How close was that? I can imagine
Harrison was looking across, smiling, having fun today. Just look
at this. Alistair Seeley pushing hard. That BMW, scrambling for some
grip. Flicks it through the chicane. Going to start the last lap, the
board going to tell them that he has about the seven second advantage.
Probably going to tell him just to back off, he can take things easy,
and bring it home safely. Johnston, second at the moment. Has that been
enough? We have got a lot more slipstreaming yet, to do. Starting
his last lap. Harrison, Barrington, going towards that kerb, Primrose
Hill. This is a good chance for the outbraking. Harrison, going to have
a stab at Johnston? Not really close enough. That is not going to happen.
It is going to the university, almost 200mph. Incredible. Very much
so. Shiels behind him? And at that moment, we saw at the slip road
earlier, York on the brakes there... Week of run a little deep there. All
right! It was just good from Shiels. And these two, still battling.
Harrison, close enough to get the slipstream, but some stability
issues there from the 34. The BMW. Throttle pinned. And on board with
Dunlop. You can hear that growl of the Yamaha. Camber drops. But
Alistair Seeley, going to have a big grin on his face. It has all come to
plan, even though he had that excursion on the pavement. It was an
extraordinary recovery, dating back to the front. He still had Rutter to
content with, but plenty of opportunities to find out on
Saturday. Win number 18 for the wee wizard! Fabulous. Just so good
around this socket. It must be the moralising for the other drivers.
Absolutely. Confirmation. Seeley wins by 12 seconds. Alistair, you
have extended the record number of wins, record-breaking fashion. It
does not get much better? I thought that was needed, and I have just
been told by the BMW boss we have got the record. Just add that Magic
roundabout, I had to pick the bike up, went after Rutter, Harrison. I
thought with the speed that I could catch them quickly, plus four,
seven, eight. And then I just told myself, do not do anything silly on
the last lap. It has been a sizzling start to the Northwest 200. And
another unstoppable win for Seeley? Absolutely dominant. To put that
lead in... Yes. Just looking so comfortable. The master. Six wins
under his belt now. Extended the podium record. Yes. Unbelievable.
Winner for ten years in a row. Even more true,? Absolutely. He looks
extremely on form. Put him on that super bike on Saturday, the record
is going to go for sure with weather like this. Definitely more to come.
The truth make it six. And we have got a lot more Northwest 200 action,
over the next few days. The next television specials, on Sunday
evening, BBC One, and the programme includes action from three more
races, including the super twin class, super bikes on the grid. Hour
long highlights on Monday, and all the shows are available on demand,
on that I play -- iplayer. Roads close tomorrow at 9:15. Massive
crowds expected. If you are going to be coming, come here early!
The Vauxhall International Northwest 200 gets under way at one of the world's most famous motorcycle road race circuits. This is the first of three programmes from the Causeway Coast, with highlights of racing from the opening night. Presented by Stephen Watson with commentary by Steve Parrish and Richard Nichols.