John McGuinness took full advantage of problems for Alastair Seeley to take his 6th North West 200 win when he took the opening Superbike race on Saturday. The duo had opened up a three-second gap over Michael Rutter and Ryan Farquhar and Seeley was in the lead when he found a false neutral and ran on at Church Corner. The same problem happened a few corners later at the Juniper Chicane and he dropped back to 14th before tearing his way back through the field for 2nd place.
It was McGuinness who grabbed the holeshot but Seeley was in front by University and at the end of the first lap he was 0.6s clear with Rutter in third a further 2.8s back, just ahead of Farquhar. Meanwhile, Simon Andrews was up to fifth having started from the first row of the second wave.
Seeley ran into the gear selection problems and dropped back to 14th but McGuinness was having no such problems and completed the second lap 4.4s clear of Rutter and Farquhar who were nose to tail in second and third. There was a huge 9-rider group of riders battling for fourth though with Conor Cummins, Martin Jessopp, James Hillier and Michael Dunlop just some of the riders involved.
At the end of lap four, McGuinness' lead was up to 10 seconds with Rutter and Farquhar continuing to exchange places but William Dunlop crashed out of fourth at the Magic Roundabout, shaken but otherwise ok. With the fastest lap of the race, 121.595mph, Seeley was already up to fourth ahead of Cummins, Michael Dunlop and a charging Cameron Donald but at the head of the field, McGuinness was able to ride to his signals and bring the bike home for another win but his first in the Honda TT Legends colours.
Seeley closed to within 4.2s at the chequered flag whilst Donald seized third on the final run along the coast road having overhauled Rutter at Black Hill. Farquhar held onto fifth with Bruce Anstey, Cummins, Hillier, Andrews and Michael Dunlop rounding out the top ten.
McGuinness said: "I really enjoyed the race and it was a lot of fun - it was dusty for the Supersport race but the racing line was clean for the Superbike and once I saw Alastair go straight on i said 'thank you very much'. We had a few dramas with the bike on Thursday and had to do an engine change but it never missed a beat in the race and I had a lot of fun. It's a fantastic package and although I knew Alastair was quicker than me, it's all about getting past the chequered flag first. I found a good rhythm and with a lead of +10 I could ride to my pitboards - let's face it, if someone takes 8-10 seconds out of me in one lap, I should be hanging the leathers up!"
William Dunlop slid off at the Magic Roundabout on lap 4 when in fourth - shaken but otherwise ok.