McGuinness’ TT build-up dominated by rain at North West 200

John McGuinness on his 600 HM Plant Padgetts Honda bike leaving York Corner at the North West 200 races. Picture: Mark 'Wally' Walters
John McGuinness on his 600 HM Plant Padgetts Honda bike leaving York Corner at the North West 200 races. Picture: Mark 'Wally' Walters

Rain dominated John McGuinness’ final preparations for the Isle of Man TT at the North West 200 series of road races.

The Morecambe Missile scored two top-seven finishes in Northern Ireland but poor weather conditions affected the race schedule throughout and saw practically Saturday’s entire schedule abandoned.

McGuinness said: “There was four to five inches of water through the Juniper Chicane section on Saturday and it was like a swimming pool so it simply wasn’t possible for the racing to continue.

“As fast as the water was being cleared it was re-forming and it’s just such a shame for everyone involved in the event.

“We all love coming here and we all love riding but safety has to come first at all times, it’s just so frustrating when the non-race day saw such fine weather.

“On the plus side, we did get to complete three races and the bikes were working really well in practice and I was happy with all of them.”

Tuesday’s first qualifying sessions saw the best weather and McGuinness was to the fore, none more so than in the Supersport category where he took pole position on the HM Plant/Padgetts Honda.

Thursday’s races were made tricky by the wet, but drying, conditions but the Morecambe man made a superb start to the five-lap Supersport race to grab an early lead.

But as the race wore on, it was clear the riders on intermediate tyres were in better shape than those, like McGuinness, on full wets but he was able to bring the bike home in a solid seventh.

The six-lap Superstock race saw the best of the weather with the sun shining but it proved less kind to McGuinness and he was forced to retire at two-thirds race distance.

A day of sun and cloudless skies on Friday was replaced by torrential rain on Saturday’s feature race day and the second Supersport race was stopped after three laps before the racing had to be abandoned completely, four races being lost.

Despite the treacherous conditions, McGuinness put in another solid ride in his only outing and was rewarded with sixth place.

He said: “Although conditions were far from ideal in either of the Supersport races, I did my very best and I’m satisfied with sixth and seventh.

“With the loss of Saturday’s races, we’ve missed out on some mileage before the TT but everyone’s in the same boat and I’m looking forward now to the Island.

“It’s a big event for all of us so let’s hope the weather’s kind and we all have some fast, safe racing.”

The first practice session for the TT, held on the world-famous Mountain Course, takes place on Monday, May 27.