North West 200: Seeley clinches Supersport & Superstock wins
Alastair Seeley increased his haul of North West 200 victories to 12 as he took Supersport and Superstock wins on the opening night of racing at the Northern Ireland motorcycling meeting.
Carrickfergus man Seeley recovered from a bad start to take a stunning win in Thursday's opening Supersport race.
Seeley, 34, later triumphed in a thrilling Superstock race as he held off Michael Rutter and Michael Dunlop.
A Northern Ireland treble was completed by Lee Johnston's Supertwins victory.
Seeley was 15th on lap one of the opening Supersport race after getting caught up in Johnston's early exit but the Mar-Train Racing rider produced a remarkable recovery to take victory ahead of Guy Martin and Australian Josh Brookes.
Fermanagh man Johnston regrouped from his Supersport mishap to overhaul Ivan Lintin in the Supertwins race, with James Cowton third.
In the final riveting Superstock race, Seeley led by 1.5 seconds after two laps before being overhauled by Rutter on the penultimate fifth lap.
As backmarkers became a factor, Dunlop stormed into contention and the Ballymoney man moved into the lead midway through the final lap.
However, Seeley regained the advantage at the Black Hill section of the course and held on to the lead over the closing corners as Dunlop was also passed by 13-times North West 200 winner Rutter.
Australian Brookes, 31, took an early lead in Thursday's Supersport opener as Seeley dropped five seconds off the pace after Johnston's early exit at York Corner.
Gary Johnson took the lead on lap two as he battled with Brookes and Rutter and the Englishman maintained his advantage to half way.
However, Seeley, 34, moved his way through the field to take the lead on the penultimate lap and he held off a strong challenge from Guy Martin on the final lap, as the Lincolnshire man was hindered by backmarkers.
Seeley had 1.134 seconds to spare from Martin at the finish with Brookes a further .06 back in third.
The top six was completed by William Dunlop, Keith Amor and Rutter.
"Lee Johnston made that hard work for me and I was forced to go straight on at York," said Seeley, as he won a Supersport race at the meeting for the third successive year.
"I had to do a U-turn and come back. But I caught the leading bunch.
"Coming back from so far back, it is testament to the team and the bike they have given me."
In the Supertwins event, Lincolnshire man Lintin appeared to have victory secured as he led by more than four seconds after two laps.
However, the gap was reduced to less than a second by the start of the final lap and Johnston moved ahead in the closing stages to take his maiden North West win.
"It is about time. The first few laps I was on edge after my slip off in the first race," said Johnston, 25.
"Ivan somehow got away but I worked hard for it and it feels great."
Seeley's two victories mean he moves ahead of Philip McCallen's haul of 11 career wins on the all-time North West list as he becomes the fourth most successful rider in the meeting's history.
THURSDAY'S NORTH WEST 200 RESULTS
1. Alastair Seeley
2. Guy Martin [1.134 secs behind]
3. Josh Brookes [1.194]
4, William Dunlop [2.332]
5. Keith Amor [16.499]
6. Michael Rutter [16.680]
7. Gary Johnson [17.495]
8. Bruce Anstey [18.2180
9. Daniel Cooper [25.680]
10. James Hillier [30.3250]
1. Lee Johnston
2. Ivan Lintin [0.525]
3. James Cowton [10.479]
4. James Hillier [11.109]
5. Jamie Hamilton [14.785]
6. Ryan Farquhar [14.855]
7. Martin Jessopp [15.910]
8. Jeremy McWilliams [36.472]
9. Paul Shoesmith [1:02.131]
10. Timothee Monot [1:02.203]
1. Alastair Seeley
2. Michael Rutter [0.570]
3. Michael Dunlop [0.786]
4. Martin Jessopp [3.089]
5. Horst Saiger [3.455]
6. Simon Andrews [15.632]
7. Conor Cummins [29.360]
8. Guy Martin [36.128]
9. Peter Hickman [36,.466]
10. William Dunlop [39.299]