North West 200: Record-holder Alastair Seeley tames conditions to secure double on opening night

Alastair Seeley led home Davey Todd and Jeremy McWilliams
Venue: Triangle Circuit Portstewart-Coleraine-Portrush Dates: 10-14 May
Coverage: Live video streams of all practice sessions and races; Live Radio Ulster and BBC Sounds coverage and text commentary on all races; TV highlights on BBC One NI on Friday 13 May, Sunday 15 May and Monday 16 May.

Alastair Seeley mastered wet conditions to win the first two races at the North West 200 to extend his record haul of triumphs at the meeting to 26.

Following a red flag in the Supersport race, Seeley out-duelled Davey Todd to claim his 25th North West 200 victory with Jeremy McWilliams third.

Seeley doubled up with a dominant Superstock win ahead of a distant Todd and Richard Cooper.

The Supertwins race was cancelled due to deteriorating weather conditions.

On the initial start in the opening Supersport race, Todd got a brilliant launch and jumped past Seeley on the run down to University corner. Seeley challenged for the lead at Church corner but slid wide which allowed Todd back through, however the record wins holder hit the front going into Juniper to lead the first lap.

Adam McLean joined the leading duo, closely followed by James Hillier, McWilliams and Michael Dunlop before the red flag came out for debris after a rider came off at the Magherabouy chicane.

It was a similar pattern at the restart as Todd raced into a lead in the now four-lap race but Seeley clawed his way onto the back of the Padgetts rider, and behind the leading pair McWilliams used his experience to pull off a brilliant double move on McLean and Hillier at Mather’s Cross.

It was Seeley who led over the line with a smart move into the final chicane, which allowed McWilliams and McLean on the back of Todd, however the English rider soon reeled in the IFS Yamaha as Dunlop retired to the pits from sixth.

Alastair Seeley leads the field away for the Supersport race
The opening night of racing at the North West 200 was met with wet conditions on the north coast

Todd and Seeley continued to duel over the following two laps, trading places several times as rooster tails or spray rose from the back of their bikes, but the decisive move came at the Juniper Chicane on the penultimate lap when Todd tried to defend from Seeley around the outside, but the 26-year-old had to slow to avoid touching the wet grass.

Seeley sprinted clear to win by 1.9 seconds from Todd, who himself held off a charging McWilliams who finished third for Burrows Racing at the age of 58.

McLean was fourth after surviving a trip across the grass at the start of the final lap, ahead of a distant Conor Cummins, Dean Harrison and Hillier.

The victory extended Seeley’s tally of wins around the 8.7-mile Triangle Circuit, 13 of which have come in the 600cc Supersport class.

Seeley wins Superstock as Irwin sits out

After taking a surprise pole given his struggles in Tuesday practice, Glenn Irwin was one of 27 riders who decided to sit out the Thursday’s Superstock race due to the wet weather conditions with Lee Johnston, Hillier and John McGuinness among those choosing not to take to the start.

Seeley, who missed out on pole by 0.8 seconds, stormed into the lead and although Todd briefly took the lead into University, the IFS Yamaha rider slipped back up the inside into the roundabout and was unchallenged for a comfortable victory.

Todd came under pressure from Cooper, 2019’s fastest newcomer, and further behind Michael Rutter was embroiled in a fight with Ian Hutchinson and Dean Harrison for sixth position, before the latter joined Peter Hickman in retiring from the race.

Cooper lost seven seconds to Todd after making a mistake at the end of the third lap, however neither rider could do anything about Seeley who was in a league of his own at the front.

Alastair Seeley put in a commanding performance to win a wet Superstock race
Alastair Seeley put in a commanding performance to win a wet Superstock race

The 42-year-old cruised to victory by 12.864 seconds over Todd, who collected his second place finish of the evening ahead of the Suzuki of Cooper.

Conor Cummins held off Rutter for fourth while Marty Lennon and Carl Phillips picked up impressive finishes to round out the top six.

The Supertwin riders went to the grid following the six-lap Superstock race before organisers debated whether to run the four-lap race with opinions split up and down the grid as to whether the race should go ahead.

Eventually, with fading light, a decision was made that the Supertwin race would not go ahead as Seeley ended Thursday with a comprehensive double from the opening night of racing.

Five races are scheduled for Saturday, which is forecast to be dry and bright, and organisers may try to add the missed Supertwin race to the schedule.

Thursday results at the North West 200

1. Alastair Seeley (Yamaha) Four laps
2. Davey Todd (Honda) +1.984
3. Jeremy McWilliams (Yamaha) +5.976
4. Adam McLean (Kawasaki) +15.399
5. Conor Cummins (Honda) +24.689
6. Dean Harrison (Kawasaki) +30.317
7. James Hillier (Yamaha) +38.801
8. Matthew Rees (Kawasaki) +41.838
1. Alastair Seeley (Yamaha) Six laps
2. Davey Todd (Honda) +12.864
3. Richard Cooper (Suzuki) +19.868
4. Conor Cummins (Honda) +36.428
5. Michael Rutter (BMW) +39.428
6. Marty Lennon (Yamaha) +1:51.843
7. Carl Phillips (Suzuki) +1:59.850
8. Ian Hutchinson (BMW) +2:14.184

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