Alastair Seeley became the most successful rider ever at the Vauxhall International North West 200 as he clinched a sweet 16th victory in the opening Supersport race on Thursday night.
Seeley broke the lap record on his Gearlink Kawasaki in the final stages to make a decisive break after a pulsating race, setting a new mark of 117.835mph.
The 36-year-old from Carrickfergus took over from Ulster legend Robert Dunlop at the top of the all-time winner’s list as he crossed the line with 1.290 seconds in hand over Yorkshireman Hutchy on the Came PBT Yamaha, with Martin Jessopp celebrating his first North West podium in third on the Riders Motorcycles Triumph.
An emotional Seeley, who clinched the record at his first attempt in the opening race of the 2016 schedule, said: “Dreams come true. As a boy everybody dreams of fantastic things and the North West has been very kind to me and it put me on the map when I first came here.
“Big thanks to Gearlink Kawasaki for a great bike and it’s a dream come true. To be mentioned along with the Dunlops in the same sentence as them is unbelievable and I’m overwhelmed.”
Jessopp has been strong all week and was pleased with a superb third place ahead of William Dunlop (IC Racing Caffrey Yamaha), with Dean Harrison (Silicone Engineering Kawasaki) and Lee Johnston on the East Coast/Burdens Triumph the top six.
James Hillier (Quattro Plant Kawasaki) finished seventh ahead of John McGuinness on the Jackson Racing Honda while the top ten was rounded out by Michael Rutter ( Bathams SMT Kawasaki) and Bruce Anstey (Valvoline Padgetts Honda), who ran on at Mill Road roundabout during the race as he challenged inside the top six.