Alastair Seeley clinched his ninth North West 200 race victory, and arguably one of his greatest yet, after a sensational final lap saw him pip Michael Dunlop in a rain-affected Supersport race one. Dunlop had dominated the opening four laps but with Seeley running in the second group of riders, the Honda TT Legends man was left with a nervous wait before finding out he had been denied.
Dunlop stormed straight into a three second lead on lap one with Guy Martin and Bruce Anstey visibly struggling to keep pace with him through the second half of the course but Seeley immediately emerged as a threat, coming through Quarry Hill just 2.6s down. The Ulsterman was running in Group B after failing to set a qualifying time on Tuesday following mechanical problems and that would prove to be an advantage later on.
Despite persistent rain at University, Dunlop pressed on to move eight seconds clear with two laps to go but the 24 year old received a warning coming out of Black Hill for the penultimate time when the back end of his Honda stepped out, chopping three seconds off his advantage in the process.
With the race decided on corrected time rather than position on the road, Dunlop had to keep pushing in the ever-changeable conditions despite admitting post-race that the front end of his machine was tucking throughout the lap but as he took the chequered flag to loud applause, the outcome was still in doubt.
Having started behind on the road, Seeley would enjoy the benefit of a slipstream from Group A riders, including pole-starter John McGuinness, and a blistering final lap saw him overturn a five second deficit, turning into a 1.312 second margin of victory. The result prompted his former team manager Philip Neill to simply call him a “wee magician”. He wasn’t kidding.
Dunlop was a dejected second having seen victory snatched from his grasp while Guy Martin came in 23 seconds further back in third for Tyco Suzuki. Bruce Anstey was the leading HM Plant by Padgetts Honda home in fourth ahead of Stuart Easton, Dean Harrison and his teammate John McGuinness with the four-way battle covered by just four seconds at the finish. Daniel Cooper was eighth on the Centurion Racing Triumph with Lee Johnston and James Hillier completing the top ten, the fight for ninth settled in Johnston’s favour by just 0.125s at the chequered flag.