Thirteen-time North West 200 winner Michael Rutter set an unofficial lap record in the Superstock class as the veteran racer clinched provisional pole on the Bathams SMT BMW on Tuesday.
The session was red-flagged with just over a minute remaining after an incident at Mill Road Roundabout, which was not serious in nature.
In warm sunshine on the north coast, Rutter lapped at 121.847mph to head Alastair Seeley (Briggs BMW) by nine tenths of a second, with Tyco BMW’s Ian Hutchinson third quickest on the S1000RR, almost 2.3 seconds down on Rutter, who achieved his most recent victory in the Superstock class in 2012.
Superbike pacesetter Michael Dunlop maintained his strong start to the event Tuesday as the Ballymoney man went fourth fastest on his MD Racing BMW at 120.651mph, while behind him, the injured Lee Johnston (East Coast/Burdens BMW) and Martin Jessopp on the Riders Motorcycles BMW completed the top six.
Lincolnshire’s Gary Johnson was next on the Penz13.com BMW followed by Dean Harrson (Silicone Engineering Kawasaki) and Austrian Horst Saiger on his Kawasaki ZX-10R in ninth.
William Dunlop was tenth on the MSS Kawasaki ahead of Kiwi Bruce Anstey (Valvoline Padgetts Honda) and Ryan Farquhar on the IEG BMW.
Meanwhile, in the Supertwins session, Yeovil man Jessopp put down a marker around the Triangle course on his Kawasaki, only just edging out Devitt RC Express Kawasaki’s Ivan Lintin by 0.046 seconds with a best lap of 107.348mph.
Ulsterman Farquhar was third, 1.5 seconds behind Jessopp on his SGS International KMR Kawasaki followed by James Hillier on the Quattro Plant Muc-Off Kawasaki.
Magherafelt’s Paul Jordan impressed as he put the B&W Kawasaki into fifth place ahead of Jeremy McWilliams (SGS KMR Kawasaki).
Peter Hickman was seventh fastest on the Cookstown/B.E. Racing machine as the 29-year-old makes his debut in the class at the North West 200.
Final qualifying takes place on Thursday, with roads closed from 9.15am-3pm ahead of the evening race schedule, which includes the opening Supersport, Supertwins and Superstock events, with roads closing from 5.15pm.