Alastair Seeley made it a sensational North West double yesterday evening by holding off Bruce Anstey in a last lap shoot out to win the Livewire AV superstock race by three-tenths of a second after six pulsating laps.
Gary Johnson and Anstey looked in control of the race over the first two laps separated by two tenths of a second with Seeley third at the end of lap one three and-a-half seconds back.
On lap two Seeley dropped to fourth behind Guy Martin as his rear intermediate tyre struggled on the wet road from University to Magherabuoy Chicane against the wets of the leaders.
On lap three Seeley was back to third 4.3 secs behind the battle at the front that now had Anstey in the lead from Johnson.
A sensational lap four saw Seeley close right up on Anstey, the three flashing across the finish line three-tenths of a second apart with Seeley edging into second at the Start/finish chicane and nipping inside leader Johnson at Primrose heading onto lap five.
Johnson dropped off the pace at this stage with Anstey taking the fight to Seeley on the penultimate lap of six both nose to tail at Ballysally Roundabout and rushing past Seeley entering Mathers Chicane, but losing the drive out handing the lead back to Seeley, the 33-year-old Carrickfergus rider stretching his lead towards Metropole.
Going onto the last lap Seeley had half-a-second advantage, but on the wet part of the circuit Anstey closed right up on his rival by Ballysally.
A slower rider at Magherabuoy Chicane got a fright as Seeley and then Anstey flashed up his inside.
Try as he might Anstey could not put a final pass on Seeley and the ‘Wee Wizard’ flashed past the chequered flag three-tenths ahead of the New Zealander, who kept up his record of a podium finish each year since his debut at the North West in 2002.
Afterwards a jubilant Seeley said, “I had a rear intermediate tyre on and I had to take it careful in the Roundabout area where it was soaking.
“Once into the lead I knew I could not shake off Bruce and heard him catching up on me.
“I was power sliding all the way from the roundabout to Metropole having to use the throttle liberally round the roundabout to stop from sliding off.
“That’s win number 10 here and into fifth on the all-time winner’s league.
“It has been a tremendous evening in difficult conditions and I have to thank MSS and Gearlink Kawasaki for providing superb machines. Roll on Saturday.”
Johnson dropped well off the leading duo 16-and-a-half seconds behind Anstey in third with Guy Martin taking his Tyco Suzuki to fourth four seconds adrift of Johnson, but three clear of a tremendous ride from ex-Irish Superbike champion Derek Sheils on his CD Racing Kawasaki getting the better of a race long battle for fifth with Milwaukee Yamaha’s Conor Cummins.
Australian Josh Brookes in his debut road race finished a remarkable seventh ahead of Michael Rutter, James Hillier and Jamie Hamilton.
It was a disappointing race for the Dunlop brothers Michael retiring his MD Racing Honda on lap two with William suffering the same fate with his Milwaukee Yamaha two laps later.