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Lee Johnston thrilled to clinch Supersport joy after incredible back-and-forth duel with Davey Todd


Lee Johnston celebrates his Supersport victory at the NW200

Lee Johnston celebrates his Supersport victory at the NW200

Lee Johnston celebrates his Supersport victory at the NW200

British Supersport hotshot Lee Johnston lived up to his billing with a hard-earned fifth North West 200 triumph in yesterday’s Supersport race.

The Fermanagh man, now based in Huddersfield, was touted as the most likely winner after making an excellent start to the British Championship on his Ashcourt Racing Yamaha.

Johnston opted not to race in Thursday’s Supersport opener, which was held in cold and wet conditions.

But the 33-year-old made amends to win the second race on a sun-kissed Saturday, although he was harried all the way to the line by form man Davey Todd on the Milenco by Padgett’s Honda.

On a nail-biting final lap, Johnston came out on top after a decisive overtake at the Juniper Hill chicane to win by a mere 0.079s.

“It’s not very often two riders get away at the front and I gave Davey a wee wave when I knew it was just the two of us,” Johnston said.

“We were both passing each other and not slowing each other up, and it was good, clean fun.

“The bikes were pretty evenly matched in a different way, and I got away when Davey made a mistake. But then I made a big mistake myself at York corner and he caught me back again,” he added.

“He made a mistake at Black Hill on the last lap and I was able to get a run on him.

“Hopefully this makes up for Thursday.”

The pair streaked clear of the field and engaged in their own personal duel at the front, with a last-lap decider always looking likely.

Johnston managed to pull a gap of 1.5s after Todd made an error on the brakes at Mather’s chicane on lap four, but the Saltburn-by-the-Sea rider regrouped and reeled the leader back in, topping 180mph on the Honda on the blast to Coleraine.

On the sixth and last lap, Todd had his nose in front at Metropole in Portrush, but he overcooked it slightly over Black Hill and Johnston was able to get excellent drive along the Coast Road.

As the crowd held its breath, Johnston went past Todd into Juniper chicane and prevailed in the sprint to the line, where he sealed his second Supersport win on the north coast by the narrowest of margins.

Todd, who had four runner-up finishes in total over the two days of racing, said: “I tried hard over Black Hill on the last lap, probably a bit too hard, and I was gutted not to get the win.

“But it was a great race with Lee and it was a great race to be part of.”

Michael Dunlop brought his MD Racing Yamaha home in third, 9.8s back.

“They’re both running at the front in the British Championship and we haven’t had much time, so it’s a good start,” Dunlop said.

“We’ve made a step and I was doing the lap times on my own, so we’re up to speed.”

Dean Harrison (DAO Kawasaki), Jamie Coward (KTS/Steadplan Yamaha) and Joe Loughlin (ILR/Coverdale Yamaha) finalised the first six.

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