Alastair Seeley made the perfect start on a very wet race day at the Relentless International North West 200 after edging a thrilling battle with Cameron Donald.
The Relentless Suzuki rider's ability to brake later than the Australian into the chicanes proved the difference as the two regularly ran side-by-side on the straights.
Gary Johnson of East Coast Racing was the man to watch on the opening lap. After starting on the front row, the Broughton rider made a brave move around the outside of the York hairpin to take the lead from Seeley.
As they raced each other on the run to the University corner, Ryan Farquhar and Bruce Anstey joined in the fun, with Farquhar briefly leading before being shuffled back to fourth. As they came back across the finish line to complete the first lap, Anstey had his nose in front with Seeley and Johnson coming very close to contact as they disputed second place.
After a miserable start, Donald was climbing back into contention and was right up with Seeley as they completed lap two. The pair of them had both demoted Anstey, who was now fending off Johnson for third.
Donald hit the front as the riders went through Millbank Avenue for the third time but Seeley's prowess on the brakes was on display again as they slowed down for the Magheraboy chicane, with Donald unable to prevent him breezing past.
On the penultimate lap, Donald again managed to snatch the advantage but the Wilson Craig Honda dropped back once again at the same spot Seeley had overtaken him last time around.
On the final tour, Donald tried everything to outfox the wily Seeley and snatched the advantage into Millbank Avenue. But the Carrickfergus rider made the decisive move into University corner, and held Donald off despite a late challenge from the Australian to win by 0.824s.
Anstey couldn't keep up with the leading duo and finished a lonely third while Gary Johnson dropped back to fifth behind the Yamaha of Michael Dunlop. William, brother of Michael, completed the top six.
The next race on the programme will see the Superbikes in action, but it won't start until at least 1pm due to a security alert which has forced the evacuation of the paddock.