Montrose-based rider and 2012 Scottish Superbike Champion, Bruce Birnie, competed recently in the International Northwest 200 road race held on closed roads on the famous 8.97-mile ‘Triangle’ around Coleraine, Portrush and Portstewart in Northern Ireland.
The event, in its 86th year, attracts road racing riders from all over the world and saw Bruce competing with established riders like John McGuiness and the Dunlop brothers, all with incredible skill and fearless courage to attempt road racing ‘between the hedges’.
Bruce was riding in three classes, the Superbike and the Superstock on his 1000cc BMW and in the Supertwins on his 650cc Suzuki, both machines sponsored by Carnegie Fuels.
In Tuesday’s qualifying session for the Supertwins he qualified 14th out of a field of 28 riders and recorded a fastest speed of 126 mph through the speed trap. However in Thurday’s qualifying his bike developed engine problems which forced him to retire from the Supertwin class.
On Thursday, three races were scheduled, a Supersport, a Supertwin and a Superstock. Bruce was scheduled to race in the Superstock but unfortunately a rider crashed at the Ballysally roundabout and the race had to be abandoned.
Despite difficult condition, Saturday’s Superstock race saw him pull out the stops and have an outstanding race. After the two qualifying sessions on the Tuesday and Thursday, he qualified 27th from a field of 65 riders, which placed him on row nine on the grid. During the race he produced a fastest speed of 184.5 mph through the speed trap with a best lap speed of 114.682 mph and a best lap time of 4:41.579, which saw him finish in 13th position.
His performance in the Superbike class was every bit a success. After qualifying 31st in a field of 65 he was in row 10 on the grid. His fastest speed through the speed trap was 183 mph, with a best lap speed of 113.993 mph and a best lap time of 4:43.281 which saw him secure 12th place.
This was in Bruce’s words “was the best week of my life” and to have done so well in a road race event against top international riders, where there are no run off strips as at circuit racing, testifies to the courage of Bruce and his fellow competitors and is an outstanding achievement for this local rider.