Johnston thrilled to pip rival Seeley to NW200 glory
Fermanagh flyer Lee Johnston kept rival Alastair Seeley waiting to hit his target of a new record 25th North West 200 win as he surged to victory while the Carrick rider crashed out of last night's opening Supersport race here on the north coast.
Seeley walked away following his mishap at Juniper Hill chicane on the last lap while dicing with Johnston for the win.
Jeremy McWilliams (53) also emerged unscathed from his second tumble, first in practice and then in the Supertwins race.
Johnston, who clocked 116.058 on the Ashcourt Racing Yamaha, said afterwards he didn't see Seeley's EHA Yamaha go down.
"It is hard racing against Alastair as you never know if he is holding back to try something on the last lap. You are never sure where he is and it was a surprise to hear he had crashed," he said. "I had the fastest bike in the race and my team would have given me a hard time if I hadn't won."
The world's fastest road racer, English visitor Peter Hickman, won the Superstock race on the Smith's Racing BMW from local heroes Glenn Irwin and Michael Dunlop.
"I'm proud to stand on the podium with the world's two greatest road racers," Irwin declared.
Stefano Bonetti became the first Italian winner on his VAS Engine Racing Paton in the closing Supertwin race, earning a huge ovation from the biggest Thursday night crowd and set to be topped by record numbers for tomorrow's five-race conclusion of the 90th anniversary NW200.