Alastair Seeley took a double in the Ballymoney Borough council Supersport and Pirtek Superstock events at the start of racing at the Vauxhall International North West 200 this evening, what many “real” road racers refer to as the precursor to the Isle Of Man TT.
In the Supersport race, the ‘Wee Wizard’ survived being caught up in a first lap crash at York hairpin that left him languishing in 16th to come through and win the opening race of the night on his Mar-Train Yamaha R6.
Lee Johnston was the rider who went down in the first lap crash, causing Seeley to take evasive action to avoid going down himself. Despite this setback, by the fifth lap Seeley had regained the lead, setting a new lap record of 116.606 mph on the fourth lap. Crowd favorite, Guy Martin, was hot on Seeley’s heels aboard his Tyco Suzuki GSX-R600, but Seeley was better able to manage a lapped rider, giving him the victory.
Seeley backed that up with a thrilling victory in the Superstock race aboard his Mar-Train Kawasaki ZX-10. After a fierce battle with Michael Rutter and Michael Dunlop which came down to the last lap, Seeley attributed his victory to his ability to pick out superior braking points.
“I’ve been coming here for ten years and I’ve got lots of experience at working out the very latest braking spots here, especially at Juniper Hill chicane where it really matters.” he said.
On the penultimate lap of the Superstock race, Seeley was caught and passed by first Michael Rutter (Batham’s BMW) and then Michael Dunlop (MD Racing BMW). Dunlop seemed to have the race at his fingertips leading into Metropole but once again Seeley made his crucial move on the Coast road.
“Michael’s bike was getting out of shape after Church and I got past in the run up to Black Hill.” Seeley explained as he took the win that moved him into fourth place in the all-time North West winners’ list.
Seeley may have won the race but it was Austrian visitor Horst Saiger who set a new lap record on his Saiger Racing.com Kawasaki ZX10 at 121.214mph. He finished fifth in the race behind Martin Jessopp on the Riders BMW.
Lee Johnston went from zero to hero after he won the Vauxhall Supertwins race following his earlier Supersport crash.
Johnston had been on pole for the twins race on the Pirtek Kawasaki and he hunted down early leader Ivan Lintin (McKinstry Kawasaki) and passed him on the final lap at Juniper Hill.
“It is great to get my first road North West win and my first road race win, especially after the way the night had begun with the crash.” Johnston smiled.