Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Lee Johnston caps Triangle debut with triumph

Twin success: Lee Johnston celebrates winning the Supertwin race at the North West 200
Twin success: Lee Johnston celebrates winning the Supertwin race at the North West 200

After crashing out of last night’s Supersport race, Fermanagh’s Lee Johnston redeemed himself with a superbly hard-fought victory in the four-lap Supertwins encounter — recording his maiden victory at the Vauxhall International North West 200.

The quirky Maguiresbridge lad was a popular winner, and as expected, was blatantly honest in his summing up afterwards.

He said: “I wasn’t happy with myself after crashing in the Supersport race. I think I had to win that after the mishap we had in the first race. I got myself so hyped up on the front row of Supersport for the first time; so hopefully this pays the boys back in the team a little bit.”

Giving further credit to his East Coast Pirtek team, he added: “The bike is awesome. I’ve always complained about not enjoying riding it but tonight it worked and we got the win. I was pushing a bit hard on that last lap and I couldn’t believe Ivan got away.”

Speaking of Scottish ace Keith Amor, who set the fastest lap and was in contention for a podium, but retired on the final lap, Johnston said: “Keith was also pushing hard and towing me along. His bike was a bit quicker, but I had to do it all on my own on that last lap, although it was worth it all for the victory.”

Speaking of his debut at the Triangle, he concluded: “I always said I wanted to win one around here and hopefully now we’ve got the first one out of the road there will be a few more.”

The ’twins action had been set up for a KMR/SGS Kawasaki full podium, but with both McWilliams and team owner Farquhar suffering qualifying technical problems, and Conor Behan crashing out on lap one at York Corner — it was left to 29-year-old Lincolnshire rider Ivan Lintin to take up the challenge.

The 2013 Ulster Grand Prix Supertwins winner looked to have the race in the bag with a four second lead at half distance, but Scottish rider Amor’s lap record pace on the penultimate lap of four reduced the deficit.

It must have spooked Lintin who crumbled in the closing stages and had to watch Johnston out-brake him into Juniper on the final circuit.

Surprisingly not too disappointed afterwards, he said: “I got P4 on my pit board and thought I was away. I maybe settled down a bit too much, or missed a few gears but it’s one of them.

“I honestly didn’t think I’d break them and Lee caught me, but I’ll be making sure it doesn’t happen on Saturday.”

James Cowton, who was involved in the incident with Conor Behan on the opening lap which saw the KMR/SGS rookie go down, took third place.

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