Sport

Seeley enters North West record books with lucky win number 13

Ryan Farquhar takes the plaudits from team-mate Jeremy McWilliams following his victory at the North West 200 on Thursday
Picture: Pacemaker
Willis Marshall

CARRICKFERGUS rider Alastair Seeley equalled Joey Dunlop and Michael Rutter's number of race wins around the North West 200 on Thursday night when he chalked up number 13 in a thrilling Supersport 600 race.

The Eventserv Supersport 600 turned out to be a cracking race in the early stages between Seeley and his fellow Carrickfergus rider Glenn Irwin. The pair shared the lead in the first two laps, with Irwin taking the lead from Seeley at the end of lap two. Just 0.5 seconds split the pair, with New Zealand's Bruce Anstey in third place, closely followed by Michael Dunlop and William Dunlop, who was clearly struggling with the hip injury he received in a morning practice spill at York Corner.

William's injury proved too much for the Ballymoney rider, retiring at the University section of the circuit. Then, on lap four, Irwin was reported touring heading out of Portstewart with the Gearlink Kawasaki rider having to pull out of the race also. But there was no stopping Seeley as he blasted into a two-second lead at the end of the penultimate lap and, in doing so, setting a new lap record of 117.077mph.

Michael Dunlop remained in second place, but even he had no answer to Seeley, with Fermanagh's Lee Johnson on the Smith's Triumph taking third place when he overhauled Anstey.

"The wee bike was brilliant" said Seeley.

"Glenn was pushing me in the early stages, but my track knowledge got me here. The team has produced me with another fantastic bike."

The Spidi Superstock race lasted only one lap when the red flags came out after a competitor crashed at Ballysally Roundabout, which resulted in his machine catching fire. Fermanagh's Lee Johnson was leading at the time by just under half a second, with Michael Dunlop in third place. With time running out, race director Mervyn Whyte declared the race nil and void.

In the Vauxhall Supertwins 650 race, Glenn Irwin, who had done so well in the Supersport 600, was a non-starter, as was English rider James Hillier, who had set the second fastest qualifying time to Ryan Farquhar, who was starting from pole position.

From the off, it was Dungannon's Farquhar who got the hole shot as he led the pack away around Primrose corner for the first time. Farquhar stamped his authority on the opening lap and led across the line at the end of lap one with a two second lead over team-mate Jeremy McWilliams in second place and Ballyclare rider Jamie Hamilton in third.

McWilliams, however, started to put pressure on Farquhar on lap two and by the end of the lap he had became the fastest rider on the circuit and had closed the gap on Farquhar by half a second, with Hamilton still in third in front of Mullingar rider Derek McGee and Dublin's Michael Sweeney. Farquhar kept his lead heading out onto the final lap, but McWilliams was still piling on the pressure and shaved another half a second off the lead.

McWilliams went for broke on the final run along the coast section on the last lap as he and Farquhar swapped paint work. But it was Farquhar who held on to take his fifth North West 200 win, with McWilliam's second just ahead of the third placed Hamilton.

Racing continues on Saturday around the seaside circuit, with roads closing at 9.30am for a full five race program.

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