Irwin storms to Superbike pole at North West 200

Glenn Irwin destroyed his own unofficial lap record to take pole position for the three Superbike races at the North West 200.

The PBM Ducati rider set a time of 14:16.433, with an average speed of 125.928 mph, ahead of Davey Todd and Michael Dunlop.

The Northern Ireland rider will start from pole for the three Superbike races, the first of which takes place on Thursday evening, but his lap record remains unofficial as it was set in a practice session.

The first Supersport and Supersport races take place after the Superbike opener.

Todd bounced back to take Superstock pole by just 0.245 seconds ahead of Peter Hickman.

Richard Cooper was fastest in the Supersport and Hickman will lead the Supertwins away for Saturday's two races.

The Superbikes were second out on track, which was still damp in patches after overnight rain, and although BMW rider Todd led the way in the early stages, times were down on Wednesday's opener, which took place in sunny, dry conditions.

However, as the sun came out at the end of the session, Irwin smashed the unofficial lap record by going two seconds faster than the lap he set on Wednesday.

Todd, who recorded the fastest speed on the run down to University corner with 209.8mph, also improved but was 2.230 seconds down on Irwin, while Dunlop continued his solid start with third place, 2.270 seconds down on the Yorkshire rider.

Running Superstock machines, the Honda of Dean Harrison and BMW rider Peter Hickman rounded out the top five.

Irwin has won the last eight Superbike races and can equal the record for wins in the class set by Michael Rutter and the late Joey Dunlop if he wins Thursday's opener.

"I love this place and it's really nice to have that tag," Irwin said on his unofficial lap record.

"I expect a strong challenge in the race. Davey is riding really well, Michael, Peter and Dean are tough characters and resilient. They are top riders."

Cooper takes pole position

Richard Cooper will start the Supersport races from pole position after edging Todd to the fastest time in Thursday's shortened qualifying session.

Like in the Superbike session that preceded it, the leading times were faster than the opening session on Wednesday and it was Cooper who popped his Yamaha to the top of the times, with Todd just 0.677 seconds back on his Ducati.

The session was red flagged with 10 minutes to go, which the North West 200 said was for a "racing incident on the approach to Trolans".

"I didn't realise I was fastest, I was just trying to get in as many laps as possible," Cooper said.

"We're still making some changes, but it's feeling good."

After being beaten to pole position in the Superbike class, Todd recovered to take top spot in the Superstock class ahead of Hickman, whose late lap time put him second on the grid.

Dean Harrison will start in third place after his time from Wednesday's session was enough to put is Honda on the front row.

Dunlop will start in fourth place ahead of John McGuinness, who, like Honda team-mate Harrison, set his fastest time in Wednesday's opening session.

The second Superstock session was red flagged in the closing stages.

The Supertwins opened Thursday's running after their curtailed session on Wednesday, and Hickman set the pace from Cooper and McWilliams on the damp circuit.

Their second session closed out Thursday's qualifying in dry conditions and despite fast efforts from Cooper and McWilliams, Hickman's time from earlier in the day was enough to secure pole position.

Cooper and McWilliams will round out the front row for both of Saturday's races ahead of Mike Browne and Christian Elkin.

"The little Swan R7 is going well," said Hickman.

"Every other bike we have come up against, we've been as strong as, if not a little bit stronger. That's a good place to be.

The third red flag of the day curtailed the session after an accident in the final sector.

The North West 200 released a statement saying: "The information from the NW200 medical team indicates none of the competitors sustained serious injuries but two have been taken to Causeway hospital for assessment and treatment."

Combined qualifying results

Superbike 1. Glenn Irwin (Ducati) 4:16.433/125.433mph 2. Davey Todd (BMW) +2.230 seconds/124.842mph 3. Michael Dunlop (Honda) + 4.500/123.756mph 4. Dean Harrison (Honda) +5.882/123.104mph 5. Peter Hickman (BMW) +5.5978/123.059mph 6. Conor Cummins (Honda) +7.819/122.203mph 7. John McGuinness (Honda) +9.982/121.346mph 8. James Hillier (Honda) +10.467/120.989mph

Speed trap: Davey Todd (BMW) 209.8mph

Superstock 1. Davey Todd (BMW) 4:19.324/124.524mph 2. Peter Hickman (BMW) +0.254/124.402mph 3. Dean Harrison (Honda) +2.201/123.476mph 4. Michael Dunlop (Honda) +4.120/122.576mph 5. James Hillier (Honda) +4.980/122.177mph 6. John McGuinness (Honda) +6.674/121.417mph 7. Paul Jordan (Honda) +7.917/120.835mph 8. Mike Browne (Aprillia) +8.554/120.835mph

Supersport 1. Richard Cooper (Yamaha) 4:33.627/118.015mph 2. Davey Todd (Ducati) +0.677 seconds/117.723mph 3. Mike Browne (Yamaha) +3.477/116.534mph 4. Michael Dunlop (Triumph) +3.650/116.461mph 5. Adam McLean (Kawasaki) +5.474/115.700mph 6. Paul Jordan (Honda) +6.510/114.905mph 7. Peter Hickman (Triumph) +7.5432/113.876mph 8. Michael Sweeney (Yamaha) +9.966/113.809mph

Supertwin 1. Peter Hickman (Yamaha) 110.846mph 2. Richard Cooper (Kawasaki) 110.222mph 3. Jeremy McWilliams (Paton) 109.16mph 4. Mike Browne (Aprillia) 108.14mph 5. Christian Elkin (Kawasaki)107.03mph 6. Adam McLean (Kawasaki) 106.707mph