MARTIN Jessopp took his second Supertwin victory at the North West 200 after a race-long scrap and a late move on Joey Thompson, who nearly had his maiden win.
The 20-year-old led nearly the entire race on the Paton S1R, but couldn’t quite hold on and ultimately was squeezed back to third by former Grand Prix rider Jeremy McWilliams.
As is custom in the Supertwin scraps, the pack stayed together for much of the race after Adam McLean got the holeshot. And while Thompson sped past everyone moments later on the lightning-fast Paton, he couldn’t put a gap between him and the chasing pack.
The Yorkshireman got tied up in a race-long battle with KMR Kawasaki man McWilliams and Roy Hanna Motors’ McLean, along with polesitter Jessopp and James Cowton.
And despite the Thompson rocketing past on nearly every straight on the track, the other four Kawasakis caught up as all five bunched up in almost every braking area.
It looked like Thompson was on for victory heading into Portrush, but Jessopp snatched the lead just as they hit the coast road and took the win by 1.860s over McWilliams as Thompson took the final step of the podium just 0.238s further back.
“I’m over the moon, I really had to work for that,” Jessopp said. “The Paton was so fast, I was losing quite a bit off the turns, but once my bike’s going in sixth gear it works so well in the slipstream.
“We’re on a proper Supertwin, I’ll leave it at that. The Paton is a rocketship, if we could get across the line before that I’m more than happy.
“The evening didn’t start too well, but it ended well and that’s what counts.”
Thompson, who bagged his maiden podium, revealed that his speed down the straights was equally balanced out by his inability to corner as quickly as the other front-runners.
“I pushed hard all race but I just haven’t the pace through some of the corners to stay with these boys,” he admitted. “It’s probably just a bit of lack of experience on my side as it’s only my second time here, but I’m learning every lap following some of these guys.
“The bike is handling great, it’s a fast bike I just need to get it through the corners a bit quicker then we’ll be on for a win.”
*Main image: Christopher Shaw
*Side image: David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press