LEE Johnston stole victory in the opening Supersport race of the North West 200 this evening after Alastair Seeley crashed out of the lead.
The two had been neck-and-neck almost the entire scrap, but after EHA Racing’s Seeley ran wide onto the grass and hit the deck at the Juniper Chicane, Ashcourt Racing man Johnston took victory.
Johnston looked to be the best starter, but Seeley sneaked ahead Johnston fended off Hillier to slot into second. But Hillier got a strong run out of Station and hit the front as the pack hit University.
But Ashcourt Racing’s Johnston then hit the front on the run to Metropole as Silicone Engineering’s Harrison reeled the leading trio in to make four in the front breakaway.
As the leaders began lap two, Harrison slipped ahead of Hillier as Johnston led the way, but closing in from behind was Paul Jordan, who led the chasers ahead of Michael Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson.
Jordan soon stretched a gap over Dunlop and made it five at the front as Johnston and Seeley continued to set the pace. But by lap four, the slipstream was in full effect and Hillier shot from fourth to first into University before the Quattro Plant Kawasaki rider entered a dice for the lead with Johnston and Seeley.
But disaster struck for Jordan as he pulled off the circuit with a retirement on lap five, leaving the front four to do battle with nothing to choose between them.
Seeley snatched the lead heading into Metropole, but Johnston powered ahead at Black Hill to hit the front as the leaders began their final lap. And while Seeley hit the front again heading into Mill Road, he ran wide at Juniper and handed Johnston a clear win ahead of Harrison and Hillier.
*Image: Derek Wilson