Optoma Racing rider Steve Plater overcame the disruption of a red flag situation to secure his third Superbike race win at the North West 200 races on Saturday.
After finishing third in the first Superbike race Steve went on to take second in the Supersport event before securing the win in the big race of the day, the Black Horse International North West 200 Superbike race. Following that, came the most exciting and close run race of the day, the Ballymoney Council Supersport race, where Steve rode through to finish in fourth place.
The first race was halted after less than a lap because of a start-line incident and, after a lengthy delay it was decided to run a complete new race over three laps instead of the planned six. From the start Steve moved straight into third place behind Bruce Anstey, with John McGuinness in the lead. Steve remained in third place, lurking just behind Anstey waiting for a chance to overtake but on the final lap Anstey went down after hitting a kerb promoting Steve to second place. Unfortunately the red flag then brought the race to an early end and a result was subsequently called at positions on lap two, with Steve being awarded third place.
"I had to swerve to avoid hitting Anstey when he crashed and lost loads of time," said Steve. "It is a shame the race was stopped as I was just getting into my stride and felt I could have won."
The second race out was the Club SOL five-lap Supersport race, which Steve began from a front row grid position. He was second into the first corner and led briefly on the opening lap before being overhauled by Bruce Anstey. By lap three Anstey and Plater had stretched out a massive lead over the chasing pack and after pulling out of his slipstream, Steve again hit the front and tried to make a break. He put in the fastest lap of the race on lap five and both he and Anstey were running very close to lap record pace. The pair exchanged places throughout the final lap but with three corners to go Anstey retook the lead and crossed the finish line just a fraction ahead leaving Steve to claim the runner up spot.
The big race of the day was the Black Horse Superbike race, scheduled for six laps but again unfortunate to be run over three laps after a red flag situation. From the off Steve moved straight into third place at York Hairpin and up to second on the brakes at Metropole. He took the lead on lap two and managed to hold off the attention of McGuinness, Guy Martin and Michael Rutter, who were all challenging for his position. As McGuinness ran wide Steve made the break and shot away from Martin and Rutter to head towards the chequered flag and take the win, his second in the big race and the first for AIM Yamaha.
"I am over the moon with that result," said Lincolnshire based Steve. "I came to the North West 200 this weekend with the intention winning this race and have done it. It was a hard-fought affair but it all came together and I set the fastest lap of the race, just a fraction of a second away from the lap record I set here in the same race last year."
The final outing for Steve was the Ballymoney Council Supersport race, which was undoubtedly the closest and most exciting race on Saturday's programme. Run over five breath taking laps Steve slotted straight into second place behind Anstey with McGuinness on his back wheel. The lead was exchanged between the three riders all the way around the nine mile public road course until, with just three corners left to race, Steve took the outside line and went for the lead. He overcooked it and was forced to run off down the escape road leaving Anstey to take the win from McGuinness with Rutter inheriting third place and the unlucky Steve Plater taking fourth.
"I wasn't going to settle for second place," said Steve. "I made that last effort but it didn't work out so I ended up in fourth. All things considered we have had a good weekend, a win, and two more podiums and then fourth - I can't complain at that!"
Steve returns to domestic action at the weekend when he will contest the fifth round of the British Superbike championship at Snetterton. Free practice is on Friday followed by qualifying on Saturday and two 22-lap races on Sunday at 1.15pm and 3.40pm.