Belfast Telegraph

North West 200: Thursday results and all you need to know as Seeley, Hickman and Jessopp earn opening victories

Alastair Seeley celebrates after winning the opening Supersport race at the Vauxhall International North West 200. Second was James Hillier and third Lee Johnston.
Photo Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press
Alastair Seeley celebrates after winning the opening Supersport race at the Vauxhall International North West 200. Second was James Hillier and third Lee Johnston. Photo Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/05/2018 North West 200 2018 Alastair Seeley celebrates with his team after winning the super sport race during this evenings Supersport race in the Vauxhall International North West 200. Photo Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/05/2018 North West 200 2018 Packed grandstands during this evenings Supersport race in the Vauxhall International North West 200. Photo Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 12-5-18 Vauxhall International North West 200 - supersport race 1 Alastair Seeley (EHA Yamaha) leads into York Corner during the 3rd lap of today's supersport race 1 at the Vauxhall International North West 200 in Portrush. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 12-5-18 Vauxhall International North West 200 - supersport race 1 Michael Dunlop ( Honda) during today's supersport race 1 at the Vauxhall International North West 200 in Portrush. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 12-5-18 Vauxhall International North West 200 - superstock race 1 James Hillier (Quattro Plant JG Speed?t Kawasaki) and Michael Rutter (Bathams Racing BMW) during today's superstock race 1 at the Vauxhall International North West 200 in Portrush. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
North West 200 2018 Peter Hickman (60) celebrates his first ever North West 200 winthis during this evenings Superstock race in the Vauxhall International North West 200. Photo Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press
North West 200 2018 Peter Hickman (60) celebrates his first ever North West 200 winthis during this evenings Superstock race in the Vauxhall International North West 200. Alastair Seeley 2nd and Michael Dinlop 3rd Photo Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press
North West 200 2018 Peter Hickman (60) celebrates his first ever North West 200 winthis during this evenings Superstock race in the Vauxhall International North West 200. Photo Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press
North West 200 2018 Peter Hickman (60) celebrates his first ever North West 200 winthis during this evenings Superstock race in the Vauxhall International North West 200. Photo Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/05/2018 North West 200 2018 Martin Jessop tastes victory in the super twin race during this evenings Supertwin race in the Vauxhall International North West 200. Jeremy McWilliams 2nd and Joey Thompson 3rd Photo Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/05/2018 North West 200 2018 Joey Thompson the youngest rider in the field after his 3rd place with the eldest Jeremy McWilliams 2nd this evenings Supertwin race in the Vauxhall International North West 200. Photo Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/05/2018 North West 200 2018 Martin Jessop tastes victory in the super twin race during this evenings Supertwin race in the Vauxhall International North West 200. Jeremy McWilliams 2nd and Joey Thompson 3rd Photo Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/05/2018 North West 200 2018 Jeremy McWilliams gets a kiss from wife Jill during this evenings Supertwin race in the Vauxhall International North West 200. Photo Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press
Lee Johnston on the grid at the 2018 Vauxhall International North West 200 on Thursday. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
Hundreds of bikers arrive in Northern Ireland by ferry for the North West 200
Pacemaker Belfast 12-5-18 Vauxhall International North West 200 - superbike practice session James Hillier (Quattro Plant JG Speed?t Kawasaki) during today's superbike practice session at the Vauxhall International North West 200 in Portrush. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 12-5-18 Vauxhall International North West 200 - superbike practice session Alastair Seeley (TYCO BMW) during today's superbike practice session at the Vauxhall International North West 200 in Portrush. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 12-5-18 Vauxhall International North West 200 - superbike practice session Ian Hutchinson (Honda Racing Honda) during today's superbike practice session at the Vauxhall International North West 200 in Portrush. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 12-5-18 Vauxhall International North West 200 - superbike practice session Glenn Irwin (Bewiser Ducati) during today's superbike practice session at the Vauxhall International North West 200 in Portrush. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Glenn Irwin (PBM/Be Wiser Ducati) on his way to pole position for Saturday's Superbike races at the 2018 Vauxhall International North West 200 practice on Thursday. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
Pacemaker Belfast 12-5-18 Vauxhall International North West 200 - superbike practice session Dean Harrison (Silicone Engineering Racing Kawasaki) during today's superbike practice session at the Vauxhall International North West 200 in Portrush. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
William Dunlop (Temple Racing Yamaha) ahead of Martin Jessopp (Riders Motorcycles BMW) during today's superbike practice session at the Vauxhall International North West 200 in Portrush. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
KMR Kawasaki's Jeremy McWilliams gets his lap times from his wife Jill, on the grid during the second 2018 Vauxhall International North West 200 on Thursday. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
NW200 officials on the grid during the second 2018 Vauxhall International North West 200 on Thursday. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
Former race winner, Phillip McCallen hard at work for the BBC during the second 2018 Vauxhall International North West 200 on Thursday. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
Robert Dunlop's mechanic, Liam Beckett was amongst the crowd as several thousand bikers turned out on the North coast tonight to mark the tenth anniversary of the Ballymoney road racer's death.
KMR Kawasaki's Jeremy McWilliams chats with team boss Ryan Farquhar on the grid during the second 2018 Vauxhall International North West 200 on Thursday.
Derek McGee and Jeremy McWilliams give each other the thumbs up on the grid during the second 2018 Vauxhall International North West 200 on Thursday. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
John McGuinness on the grid during the second 2018 Vauxhall International North West 200 on Thursday. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2018: Ryan Farquhar on the grid during the second 2018 Vauxhall International North West 200 on Thursday. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2018: James Cowton on the grid during the second 2018 Vauxhall International North West 200 on Thursday. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2018: Joey Thompson during the second 2018 Vauxhall International North West 200 on Thursday. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2018: Michael Rutter and Dean Harrison on the grid during the second 2018 Vauxhall International North West 200 on Thursday. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
Pacemaker Belfast 12-5-18 Vauxhall International North West 200 - supersport practice session Michael Dunlop ( Honda) during today's supersport practice session at the Vauxhall International North West 200 in Portrush. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 12-5-18 Vauxhall International North West 200 - superstock practice session Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) during today's superstock practice session at the Vauxhall International North West 200 in Portrush. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2018: Dan Kneen on the grid during the second 2018 Vauxhall International North West 200 on Thursday. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2018: Michael Rutter on the grid during the second 2018 Vauxhall International North West 200 on Thursday. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2018: Jeremy McWilliams on the grid during the second 2018 Vauxhall International North West 200 on Thursday. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
Pacemaker Belfast 12-5-18 Vauxhall International North West 200 - supertwins practice session Big crowd at York Corner during today's supertwins practice session at the Vauxhall International North West 200 in Portrush. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

By Gareth Hanna

Alastair Seeley, Peter Hickman and Martin Jessopp were the winners on the opening night of racing at the North West 200.

Carrickfergus man Seeley took his overall NW200 record to 22 wins when he did enough to streak clear during the final lap of the first Supersport race on his EHA Yamaha. Seeley has now won a race at the NW200 every year since 2008.

It had been a sterling battle between the top four racers with Dean Harrison falling back to fourth during the last lap, leaving James Hillier to take second ahead of Lee Johnston.

Then in the Superstock action, Peter Hickman pulled off a thrilling overtake on the final Juniper Chicane to sneak his first EVER NW200 win from the grasp of Seeley at the end of a Titanic tussle. Michael Dunlop had been third for much of the race but had to be content to stay there.

In the Supertwin race, Martin Jessopp started in pole position but was beaten off the mark and didn't lead until the second half of the last lap, passing Joey Thompson's rocket-like Paton - which dominated the straights - to edge victory ahead of Jeremy McWilliams.

What the winners said

Alastair Seeley (Supersport)

"That was a nice one," he told BBC. "I knew in the winter time what bike I wanted to be on. We did some testing - I was very comfortable. I didn't want to make any mistakes - I bided my time and on the last lap I knew I had plenty in the tank.

"I knew the bike was doing everything that I wanted it to do. I like Supersport class. I feel that's when I gel best with the bike. I'm looking forward to trying to replicate it on Saturday now."

Peter Hickman (Superstock)

"Finally. I'm just happy something's gone right for once," he told BBC. "This year's been so tough and I'm really happy for the team. They put so much effort and resources into me. We've had a bit of a rubbish day with a few controversies.

"I knew I was close. I knew I was fast. The last chicane was the only place. I knew if I did him earlier, he would just do me back so I waited until I knew he couldn't get me back.

"I made it clean at first and then he let the breaks off. I did the same - I thought if I have to go on the gravel, I'll go on the gravel. I wasn't going to go that far and not win it."

Martin Jessopp (Supertwin)

"I didn't lead the race until halfway through the last lap, but I guess that's what's important. I'm over the moon. I really had to work for that," he told BBC. "The evening didn't start so well leading the first race and ending up on top of the roundabout but we've ended it well."

And on Joey Thompson's powerful Paton that dominated the straights: "The thing's a rocket ship so if we can get off the line ahead of that, I'm more than happy."

Here are the full results and the night's action as it happened:

 

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