PETER Hickman stole his first North West 200 win with an eleventh-hour move on reigning circuit king Alastair Seeley at the final chicane.
It looked like the two could have some bad blood brewing after Hicky squeezed through just one corner from the finish and brushed Seeley’s BMW, but a handshake as they rolled into the paddock put paid to the tension.
After a delay due to an oil spill, the race got underway at half past seven with the clock winding down for race officials to get all three races run.
Smith’s Racing man Peter Hickman grabbed the early lead, but ran wide at York Road Corner, allowing James Hillier and Michael Dunlop to slip through into the lead. But it wasn’t long before the British Superbike rider came back through as he led the field over the line at the end of lap one.
After Dunlop pushed his way back through to lead lap two, JG Speedfit Kawasaki’s ace-in-the-hole Hillier snatched the lead back heading into University, but the Ballymoney man was straight back at him as Hickman and Supersport race winner Alastair Seeley joined the battle at the front.
And it wasn’t long before Tyco BMW’s Seeley made a move for the lead and looked to be checking out just as he did in the 600 scrap, but Hickman refused to let him escape and caught back up to take over at the front as Dunlop kept a close eye on them from third.
But as the two leaders came into the final chicane, Hickman made a deep lunge and held station to take victory as Seeley ran over the inside of the track, but still finished just 0.578s off the win as Dunlop nabbed third another half second adrift.
“Finally something went right for once this year’s been so tough, I’m really happy for the Smiths BMW team they’ve put so much time, money resources everything into me,” said a delighted Hickman
“I knew I was close I knew I was fast, but I knew the run in to Juniper was the only place really, if I did him before Metropole he was always going to do me back so I just waited and did him at the place I thought he couldn’t get me back
“I made it fairly clean initially and then he let the brakes off and I thought ‘there’s no way I’m letting you have that by letting the brakes off,’ so I just did the same and thought if I have to go over the gravel then I have to go over the gravel but I wasn’t going to get that far and not win it.”
Seeley, meanwhile agreed that it had been a fair move. “I thought I had the job done and I saw Pete coming up the inside of me,” he said.
“He had the inside line and was more or less in control so tried to let the brakes off to nip in front, he let his brakes off and he got in and I had a bit of an excursion across the kitty litter. It was a fair move, he does this in BSB every weekend, this is what you do.”
*Main image: Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press
*Side image: David Maginnis