Amor claims first ever NW200 podium
Keith Amor took his first ever podium at the International North West 200 road races on Saturday when he finished third in the shortened Superstock race. The Wilson Craig Honda rider also claimed seventh in the only Superbike race that was held as poor weather conditions saw the final two races of the day cancelled.
Practice on Tuesday and Thursday evenings was held in vastly different conditions, the first session seeing dry roads and blue skies whilst the latter fell victim to wind and rain. Keith posted some strong times on Tuesday, successfully qualifying all of his machines on the front two rows and with no-one going quicker in the damp on Thursday, Keith lined up in 3rd, 4th and 6th in the Supersport, Superbike and Superstock classes respectively.
Race day on Saturday dawned grey and extremely blustery and it proved to be a day that tried the patience of everyone, with frequent rain showers affecting various parts of the course. In the opening Superbike race, only two laps had been completed when the red flag came out due to an incident and the result was declared with Keith in seventh spot.
The first Supersport race was cut to four laps but Keith's race was over on the first lap when, travelling at close to 150mph, an electrical problem caused the crank sensor to fail, briefly cutting out the Honda engine and Alastair Seeley was unable to avoid him and clipped the rear of the machine, crashing out, fortunately without injury. Keith made the restart but pulled off at the first corner when it was clear the problem wasn't temporary.
In the Superstock race, Keith found himself down in sixth at the end of the first lap but, by the end of lap 2, he was up to third. Closing in on the leaders, Keith had just started his fourth lap when the red flags were out again, this time for heavy rain. The result was again taken at the end of two laps and Keith was awarded third for his first ever NW200 podium. With rain continuing to fall at various parts around the course, and with time running out, the feature Superbike and second Supersport races were then cancelled.
Speaking afterwards, Keith said:"It's been an incredibly frustrating day for everyone and definitely a case of what might have been. In the first Superbike race we had the wrong gearing for the strong winds and the screen was too small so I was being buffeted all over the place. The wind was trying to pull me off the back of the bike so I had back off a bit but we changed things for the second race and it was flying on the warm up lap so it was disappointing that we didn't get to race.""The Supersport race was a bit of a disaster but I regrouped for the Superstock race and after a so-so start, I then got beat up a bit on the first lap. I got my head down though and had worked my way up to third by the end of the second and the bike was working really well. I was confident that I was going to reel the leaders in but the rain came down very heavily and it was the right decision to stop the race. I was happy with third but would have been happier if the race had gone the full distance.""I was ready to race in the final two races so it was a hugely disappointing when both of them were cancelled. It's a real shame, especially for all the mechanics - Guy, Brian and Alistair - as they've put in so much effort to get us here this week and any problems we encountered, they immediately sorted them out. It's disappointing for the fans as well and I feel like we didn't do the racing we should have but, like I say, it was good to get a podium and a big thank you to my sponsors especially Wilson, Dunlop, Honda, Arai, Annandale Design and Macleay Engineering for all their support in getting me there."
Keith now heads to the Isle of Man TT Races, with practice for the legendary event getting underway on Saturday May 30th.
Picture by Alan Armstrong Photography