Martin Jessopp went from ‘zero to hero’ during last night’s North West 200 road races as the Riders Motorcycles rider bounced back from a crash on the opening lap of the Supersport race when leading to winning the Supertwin race, his third victory around the 8.9-mile circuit.
A brilliant start in the opening Supersport race saw him grab the lead off the line but he got caught out by a bump under braking for the Mill Road Roundabout, subsequently tipping off at low speed in front of the entire field. Fortunately uninjured, he went on to win a thrilling 4-lap Supertwin race, repeating his victory of 12 months ago.
“I don’t like saying it but I was probably zero to hero yesterday and it was a real shame what happened in the Supersport race as I’d felt really comfortable on the bike during qualifying,” Jessopp told Bikesportnews.com. “Apart from racing the Triumph here and at the TT, I do very little mileage on it but it feels like my bike so it was perhaps an opportunity missed. I got off the line well and nipped ahead of Alastair (Seeley) but I braked late and with a full tank of fuel, I found a bump in the track that you wouldn’t normally notice.
“I released the brake and tried to make it round but just clipped the air fencing and slammed into the tarmac with about 20-odd bikes bearing down on me! Both me and the bike were fine and I watched the race from the roundabout and it looked like a really good battle, one I felt sure we’d have been part of had it not been for the tip-off. At least we get another go on Saturday!”
Jessopp was then forced to retire from the following Superstock race after suffering with high-speed instability and front brake fade - "not very enjoyable" - but he was back out on track for the closing Supertwin race where he started from pole position. Despite looking like he’d been dropped at one stage, he put in a superb last lap and timed his run to perfection, leading along the coast road to win by an eventual 1.8s.
“The Twin race was hard but one of the best I’ve ever had around here and although I got dropped at one point when Joey Thompson made a break on the Paton, I regrouped. I was struggling a bit out of the corners but the bike works really well in fifth and sixth gear and I can get tucked in well despite being probably one of the biggest and heaviest riders in the field.”
“There were a few lunges going on and I don’t know what they’ve done to the Paton as it was flying, much quicker than Michael (Rutter) at last year’s TT, but I knew if I could get to the front, I’d be able to edge clear along the coast road where I’m really strong. Getting into the position to do that wasn’t easy but I got ahead at Metropole and made sure I hit every apex and every braking marking so as not to give anyone a chance. It worked perfectly and to get win number three here felt very sweet.”
Jessopp has a busy day on Saturday with a repeat of his three races from Thursday evening as well as the two Superbike races where he’ll line up in sixth on the grid on the Riders Motorcycles BMW S1000RR.