Alastair Seeley made it win number 19 at the North West 200 after taking a four second victory in Saturday’s Supersport race, the Gearlink Kawasaki rider pulling away from William and Michael Dunlop in the closing stages as conditions got trickier due to rain falling.
“It makes up for the disappointment of Thursday evening,” the 37 year old said afterwards. “The boys worked hard to fix the problem and I was able to pull the pin on the last lap. I’d dropped back to fifth when the rain started to fall and the conditions were very sketchy but I worked my way to the front again and was cautious through the slippy stuff and then went harder on the dry.’
Overnight rain had left the circuit damp from Dhu Varren to Juniper Hill and then drizzle just before the scheduled start led to a short delay but the race finally got underway at 11am with Seeley grabbing the lead from Ian Hutchinson and Lee Johnston, the majority of front runners opting for the dry tyres.
By the end of the lap, Seeley had a 0.75s advantage over Hutchinson, Martin Jessopp and Bruce Anstey but Hutchinson took the lead briefly at University on the second lap only for Seeley to immediately respond.
On lap three, no less than 12 riders were disputing the lead and it was Jessopp’s turn to lead at Ballysally before William Dunlop took over at Black Hill. However, as they flashed across the start and finish, Seeley was back in the lead from Dunlop, Hutchinson, Jessopp and Adam McLean. Johnston was out though having been squeezed onto the kerb by McLean at the Juniper Hill chicane.
By lap four, the clouds were getting darker and the rain began to fall again at the start and finish with a number of riders putting their hand up for the race to be stopped as they headed out on lap five. The conditions were definitely worsening with Hutchinson and Jessopp dropping back and Anstey and Dean Harrison pulling in to retire.
Seeley pressed on at the head of the field and on the final lap he set the fastest lap of the race, 113.940mph, to surge clear for his 19th win and 29th podium around the 8.9-mile circuit. William held off brother Michael for second, the latter stating the race should have been stopped, with McLean taking a superb fourth.
Hutchinson regrouped to take fifth from Hillier and Jamie Coward whilst Peter Hickman came through for eighth ahead of Jessopp and James Cowton.