North West 200: Seeley Makes It 22 Triangle Victories In Compelling Supersport Race
If their one word to describe this evening’s opening Supersport encounter of this years North West 200, it was in my opinion hectic!.
Opening lap of the race saw drama a plenty, as early race leader Martin Jessopp crashed out of contention at the roundabout, which in the process left the likes of William Dunlop, Dean Harrison and Michael Dunlop with lots of work to do to catch the leading group, which included middleweight class maestro, Alastair Seeley.
Seeley, piloting the EHA Racing YZF R6 Yamaha, was the race leader at the end of lap 1, holding a slender advantage over Lee Johnston, McAdoo Kawasaki’s Adam McLean, 2013 TT Privateers champion Dan Cooper, Gary Johnson and James Hillier.
Onto lap 2 and whilst Seeley was maintaining the race lead, he wasn’t at all having it his own way, with the likes of Quattro Plant/JG Speedfit Kawasaki’s Hillier keeping the NW200 record holder more than a touch honest.
Photo by Rod Neill
Michael Dunlop was an early retirement on lap 2, as was brother William Dunlop, whilst Adam McLean also dropped out of the proceedings.
Following the completion of lap 2, there was one major difference to the leading group, it included Silicone Engineering Racing’s Dean Harrison. The Bradford after having a tricky start to the race, steadily worked his way up the order, prior to reeling in the front group.
By lap 4, Harrison was right on Supersport lap record holder Seeley’s tails, it was nip and tuck between the international roads stars, which was only made all the more compelling by the fact that Johnston and Hillier were also still very much in contention for race honours.
Ultimately though it was Alastair Seeley through the final laps, who showed once again why he is the most successful rider in NW200 history, as he sector by sector, smooth line by smooth line, powered clear of his pursuers.
A dazzling final lap time of 4 minutes 34.427 seconds, just a whisker outside his own class lap record, was more than enough to elevate him to race victory, his 22nd North West 200 success, by just over 2.4 seconds in front of James Hillier, who got the better of Lee Johnston and Dean Harrison to finish a fine second.
Gary Johnson, aboard the RAF Regular & Reserves Triumph finished a solid fifth, as Conor Cummins, Ian Hutchinson, Dan Cooper, James Cowton and Dan Kneen concluded the top ten finishers.
Team ILR’s Joe Thompson finished a very respectable 11th, whilst others quietly going about their business who impressed including leading twice IRRC Supersport champion Laurent Hoffmann (15th), New Zealander Daniel Mettam (17th) and Matt Rees (19th).
Supersport Race 1 results:
1 Alastair Seeley
2 James Hillier
3 Lee Johnston
4 Dean Harrison
5 Gary Johnson
6 Conor Cummins
7 Ian Hutchinson
8 Dan Cooper
9 James Cowton
10 Dan Kneen
11 Joe Thompson
12 Christian Elkin
13 Sam West
14 Craig Neve
15 Laurent Hoffmann
16 Paul Jordan
17 Daniel Mettam
18 Darryl Tweed
19 Matthew Rees
20 Neil Kernohan
Words by Stevie Rial