North West 200: Record holder Seeley clinches 18th win as Jessopp earns double
|North West 200 international road races|
|Venue: Triangle Circuit, Portstewart, Coleraine, Portrush Dates: 9-13 May|
|Coverage: All practices and races live on the BBC sport website and BBC Radio Ulster; Highlights on BBC One NI Friday 12 May, Sunday 14 May and Monday 15 May|
Alastair Seeley extended his all-time record of North West 200 wins to 18 as he clinched a Superstock triumph on the first night of racing at the meeting.
Carrickfergus man Seeley, 37, set a lap record of four minutes, 22.7 seconds as he extended his North West winning run meeting to 10 straight years.
Somerset's Martin Jessopp, 31, earned his first North West victories as he won the Supersport and Supertwin races.
Jessopp and Michael Rutter swapped lap records in a thrilling Supertwin race.
Seeley regroups from Supersport exit
Seeley recovered from a second-lap exit in the opening Supersport race to dominate the Superstock class as his Tyco BMW finished 12.623 seconds ahead of Lee Johnston.
Fermanagh man Johnston, a three-time North West winner, pipped Dean Harrison for second but the Englishman had the consolation of earning his first podium finish at the meeting.
Michael Rutter led early on before retiring but Seeley had a 1.94-second advantage by the halfway point after producing his lap record on the third circuit and he extended his advantage during the remainder of the race.
"I don't know what I'm doing right," said Seeley.
"I've talked about having plenty of lady luck down through the years and it seems to be continuing. Hopefully there will be more of the same on Saturday."
Jessopp has his evening in the sun
But while Seeley continued his record-breaking exploits at the Triangle meeting, Jessopp also shone in the evening sun.
The Yeovil Marshes man was a close third at the halfway point in the Supersport race as Ian Hutchinson headed Harrison but Jessop led by 1.2 seconds heading into the sixth and final lap and held his nerve to take his first North West triumph.
Harrison was 0.772 seconds behind in second with Hampshire rider James Hillier completing an all-English podium as Jessopp clinched a first North West triumph on a Triumph bike since 1970.
The night then got even better for 31-year-old Jessopp as he held off a strong late challenge from veteran Michael Rutter to win the concluding Supertwin race.
Jessopp's lap record of 4:55.50 helped give him a three-second lead at one point before Rutter cut into his compatriot's advantage by improving the lap record to 4:53.
Rutter was only a couple of bikes lengths behind Jessopp going into the closing stages but the Somerset man held his nerve to secure his double.
"We're basically a family-run team. Myself and my old man. It's huge for us," said Jessopp.
"We don't really have any sponsors to worry about but all the boys involved put in a huge amount of work."
THURSDAY'S VAUXHALL NORTH WEST 200 RESULTS
|1. Martin Jessopp (Eng)||Triumph||28:00.796|
|2. Ian Hutchinson (Eng)||Yamaha||+0.772 secs|
|3. James Hillier (Eng)||Kawasaki||1.229|
|4. Dean Harrison (Eng)||Kawasaki||1.461|
|5. Lee Johnston (NI)||Honda||1.835|
|6. William Dunlop (NI)||Yamaha||3.302|
|1. Alastair Seeley (NI)||BMW||26:22.328|
|2. Lee Johnston (NI)||BMW||+12.623 secs|
|3. D Harrison (Eng)||Kawasaki||14.801|
|4. Ian Hutchinson (Eng)||BMW||32.001|
|5. Martin Jessopp (Eng)||BMW||32.209|
|6. James Hillier (Eng)||Kawasaki||49.101|
|1. Martin Jessopp (Eng)||Kawasaki||19:33.052|
|2. Michael Rutter (Eng)||Kawasaki||+0.848 secs|
|3. Ivan Lintin (Eng)||Kawasaki||15.573|
|4. Dan Cooper (Eng)||Kawasaki||18.060|
|5. Derek Sheils (Rep of Ire)||Kawasaki||32.809|
|6. Adam McLean (NI)||Kawasaki||36.386|