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Alastair Seeley favourite to land North West 200 laurels

Willis Marshall

Carrickfergus rider Alastair Seeley will be looking to add to his 23 North West 200 race wins today.

The Tyco BMW/EHA Yamaha rider will again start as race favourite after his titanic Supersport 600 race win on Thursday evening.

An exciting evening of elbow-to-elbow racing at the 2018 Vauxhall International North West 200 produced three different winners from the trio of Supersport, Superstock and Supertwins races.

Alastair Seeley notched up his 22nd North West 200 victory by winning the opening Supersport event on the EHA Yamaha after a battle with James Hillier (Quattro Plant Kawasaki) and Lee Johnston (Padgett’s Honda).

Seeley’s winning margin was 2.4 seconds to maintain his record of having won a race at the North coast event every year since 2008.

“It’s nice to keep that record going,” the 38-year-old smiled.

“I knew the boys were there because they kept passing me and I knew going in to the last lap that I had to make a gap.

“The fuel load was down so I knew I could brake later and I bided my time to lose the tow. I still had plenty in the tank.”

When Seeley moved into the lead of the Superstock race on lap three it looked like the Carrickfergus man was going to make it a double but it was Peter Hickman who snatched the chequered flag with a stunning last-lap move.

Hickman dived inside Seeley on the brakes going into Juniper chicane to give the big Burton-on-Trent rider his first North West victory on the Smith’s BMW.

“It was really close on the lap before and I knew I could have a go there,” the BSB star explained.

“I didn't want to show my hand too early but I was really strong at Black Hill and the bike is good in a straight line.

“Alastair tried to let the brakes off and lean on me going into Juniper and I thought: ‘You’re not doing that!’”

The race was a BMW benefit with Hickman winning by half a second from Seeley’s Tyco BMW with Michael Dunlop a further 0.5 seconds behind on his MD Racing BMW.

Veteran Michael Rutter closed on the leading trio on the final lap to claim fourth place.

Racing today commences at 10am in what could prove to be a record-breaking event.

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