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Chasing pack are looking to slam the brakes on Seeley

By Roy Harris

Published 14/05/2016

Red hot: Alastair Seeley leads at the start of Thursday’s Supersport race
Red hot: Alastair Seeley leads at the start of Thursday’s Supersport race

The opening race of the 2016 Vauxhall International North West 200 on Thursday was a sensational Supersport six-lap encounter and the same class opens today's rescheduled programme when the leading protagonists will again set the 8.83-mile Triangle Circuit alight.

They'll do so with skill, daring, bravery and absolute trust as they slip-stream, pass and re-pass sometimes three abreast on the 180mph run between Station Corner and University.

Alastair Seeley eventually came out on top in Thursday's race, the success taking him into the record books as the all-time winner of races at the North West 200.

Seeley said: "Saturday's race should be something similar with the same result hopefully. The rest of the boys will have made adjustments here and there to try and beat me and we might have one or two up our sleeve for the Gearlink Kawasaki and see where it takes us."

Second place finisher Ian Hutchinson has only ever won two North West 200 races, both in the Supersport class - the 2006 second race, having to wait four years before his second victory also in the second race, prior to his unique five-timer at the TT.

On the Came BPT Keith Flint Yamaha will certainly be looking to start race-day off on the right note by taking a win.

One man happy with his Thursday evening race performance in the Actavo Supersport race was 27-year-old Martin Jessopp (Rider's Triumph) from Yeovil in Somerset, who stood on the podium at the event for the first time, after finishing a surprise third behind Alastair Seeley and Ian Hutchinson.

Jessopp not renowned for his Supersport prowess, had been in the leading group throughout and it was only on the closing lap that he settled for third just 0.9sec behind Hutchinson.

Having started racing at the North West in 2006 his main claim to fame was smashing the speed trap record in 2012 clocking 208mph during qualifying for the Superbike class since then luck hasn't been on his side, until now, and he could well be a dark horse this morning.

Lee Johnston completes the front row alongside Seeley and Jessopp, but the diminutive Maguiresbridge rider appears not to have fully recovered from his Scarborough crash a few weeks ago and in Thursday's race he was in the early contention before dropping back to finish sixth on his ECC/Burdens Triumph, 10 seconds behind Seeley.

Others with victory plans include William Dunlop, who will be looking to improve on fourth in race one.

And Dean Harrison, who had one of his best North West 200 rides to date coming from eighth on the grid to finish a strong fifth on his Silicone Kawasaki and Michael Dunlop with a point to prove having been forced off the grid on Thursday before the race even started.

Supersport always produces fast, close, breathtaking action and expect nothing different this morning.

Belfast Telegraph

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