Peter Hickman clinched both his and the Smiths Racing BMW team’s first ever International North West 200 victory when he came out on top of a thrilling Superstock race on Thursday evening which he followed up with a runner-up place in today’s second race.
Hickman’s win came after a titanic three-rider battle during the opening six-lap race around the Causeway Coast track which saw the Lincoln rider dicing with fellow BMW riders Alastair Seeley and Michael Dunlop for the entire race distance.
It was Hickman and Seeley that held first and second for the majority of the race and although Seeley, the record race winner at the closed roads track in Northern Ireland, looked like he’d done enough to get the win, Peter had other ideas and a late braking manoeuvre at the Juniper Chicane on the final lap saw him get the verdict by just over half a second.
Today’s race, which again saw perfect conditions all around the 8.9-mile circuit, followed a similar pattern with the same riders battling for supremacy. At one time, just two seconds covered the first eight riders but in the closing two laps, it was Hickman and Seeley that again looked the most likely to succeed on their respective BMW S1000RRs.
Along with Dean Harrison, the duo both took turns to lead and although Peter grabbed the lead at the Metropole on the final lap and led all along the coast road, Seeley did what Peter had done to him on Thursday at Juniper to take the win with the Smiths BMW rider having to settle for second this time, albeit just 0.186 seconds adrift.
The 31 year old was also out in both of today’s seven-lap Superbike races for the Gloucester-based team, but it was a case of what might have been as rear tyre problems forced him to retire from the leading pack in the first encounter and then a punctured radiator pipe, caused from a stone flicking up from the rider in front of him, in the second race.
Unfortunately, a controversial decision by the organisers meant that he was unable to start either of the two Supersport races on the Smiths Racing Trooper Beer Triumph with only four and a half of the designated qualifying laps completed, which was a disappointment for all concerned.
Peter Hickman: “I’m naturally delighted to have won my first NW200 Superstock race and the team deserved it as much as me as they’ve worked incredibly hard and given me a great bike. I timed it perfectly in the first race and thought I’d done the same in the second as I tried to get a gap only for Alastair to brake later than I thought possible at the final chicane. In both Superbike races, I made really good starts but had a few issues with the dash in the first race and then a problem with the rear tyre that forced me out. Then in the second, a stone got flicked up and it went through the fairing and then through the radiator pipe which was incredibly unlucky. The biggest disappointment was not getting out in either Supersport race though as everyone had put a lot of effort in getting the bike ready but overall, it’s been a solid enough meeting ahead of the TT.”
Darren Jones, Team Co-ordinator: “Obviously, the two Superstock races were the undoubted highlights of the week and it was great for both Peter and the team to take their first North West 200 victories. We worked hard on the engine braking and had no problems at all in the races so Peter’s feeling very happy and confident with the machine. It was disappointing not to get out in either of the two Supersport races and although we didn’t get the results we deserved in the Superbike races, Peter was as fast as anyone and it was only freak issues that forced us out. It’s been good preparation for the TT and we’re happy enough with the position we’re in.”
For further information, please visit www.smithsracing.co.uk.
Pictures courtesy of Gavan Caldwell.
Note to Editors:
Smiths (Gloucester) Limited was started in 1982 by Alan Smith. Smiths is a family run business and provides services in construction, waste management and recycling, demolition, transport, skip hire, laser levelling, asbestos removal and plant hire. It has grown from a small, owner-operated construction firm to one of the region’s largest and most respected construction services and waste management companies.
Alan Smith developed his love of bikes and racing in the 1980s when he competed in local and national amateur motocross events, his highest achievement being several top three positions in the national four-stroke and superclass categories.
The Smiths Racing Team continues the family ethos with daughter Rebecca adopting the mantle of Team Manager and wife Anne, son Paul and daughters Helen and Lisa often seen supporting the team on race days.