Glenn Irwin roared to pole in the Superbike class at the Vauxhall International North West 200 in Thursday’s final qualifying session.
The Carrick man, who won last year’s feature race at the Triangle meeting on the North Coast, fired a warning shot over the bows of his rivals on the PBM Be Wiser Ducati as he claimed the top spot with a speed of 122.454mph.
The British Superbike star had an advantage of only 0.066 seconds over Dean Harrison on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki, while Michael Dunlop sealed third place on the Tyco BMW following a fast late lap at 122.410mph.
Only 0.094 seconds covered the top three in a blistering qualifying showdown, which was held in glorious sunny conditions on the North Coast.
It was an impressive performance by Irwin, who only managed three laps in Tuesday’s shortened session on the Panigale R.
Fellow Carrick man Alastair Seeley, fastest in the Superstock and Supersport classes, was fourth quickest on the Tyco BMW at 122.077mph, only eight tenths down on Irwin.
The top six was completed by Michael Rutter on the Bathams BMW (122.049mph) and Martin Jessopp, who is riding the Riders Motorcycles BMW.
Peter Hickman (Smiths BMW) and William Dunlop (Temple Golf Club Yamaha) were seventh and eighth respectively ahead of Conor Cummins (Padgett’s Honda) and Lee Johnston on the Honda Racing Fireblade.
There was a 20-minute delay before the session began due oil on the course. A further delay occurred when Superbike qualifying was red-flagged due to another oil spillage before resuming again once the track had been cleaned.