North West 200: Ryan Farquhar holds off Jeremy McWilliams in a thrilling finish
A thrilling Vauxhall Supertwins encounter had the large crowd on the edge of their seats.
Dungannon's Ryan Farquhar, who only returned from retirement two years, took his KMR Kawasaki to a storming victory over team-mate and former 250cc Grand Prix winner Jeremy McWilliams.
Farquhar dominated the four-lap encounter throughout, but McWilliams did have a bite at his team bosses heals on the final lap at Metropole, but couldn't make it stick.
Farquhar needed no second invitation and held off 51-year-old McWilliams by just over a second at the chequered flag.
It was his fifth North West 200 career win, and with a fastest lap to boot, an emotional Farquhar said afterwards: "He's a tough old bugger to beat.
"I knew he would have a go but I wasn't sure where, but two old men on the podium isn't too bad for this wee team."
Magnanimous in defeat, McWilliams, who is a former Supertwin winner at the North West 200, repaid the compliment.
"I got under him at Metropole but ran wide as my bike is a bit soft in the rear and struggles to complete the turn," said McWilliams.
"But take nothing away from Ryan he's hard to beat."
Recounting the race, and a scary moment from qualifying McWilliams added: "I could close in on the brakes but Ryan's bike has a bit better drive off the turns, and it's not an excuse but I got a bit of a scare in qualifying when James Cowton went down in front of me, just after Church.
"I closed my eyes and kept it pinned or his bike would have hit me.
"So during the race I know that slowed me down a bit at that part of the course, but take nothing away from Ryan, it was a great win and I'll have another go at him on Saturday."
Third place went to Cookstown B.E Racing's Jamie Hamilton, who is rapidly making a name for himself in road racing with Christian Elkin, newcomer Derek McGee and Michael Sweeney rounding out the top six.
The red flagged Superstock race, which was shaping up to be a classic with Ulster trio Lee Johnston, Alastair Seeley and Michael Dunlop at the head of the field, could well be slotted in at the front of tomorrow's race programme.
This now leaves the big question - can Alastair Seeley equal Phillip McCallen's five-in-a-day and in doing so take his win tally into new territory on 18 wins.