Supercharged Alastair Seeley took a brilliant double in the Supersport and Superstock events at the start of racing at the Vauxhall International North West 200 on Thursday evening.
The ‘Wee Wizard’ survived being caught up in a first lap crash at York hairpin that left him languishing in 16th to come through and win the opening race of the night on his Mar-Train Yamaha R6.
The 34-year-old completed his double by coming out on top in the Superstock race on the Mar-Train ZX 10 Kawasaki after a scintillating last lap battle with Michael Rutter and Michael Dunlop.
“It is really nice to get my 12th win at the North West,” smiled Seeley as the celebrations began.
“I’m really looking forward to Saturday now.”
The diminutive Carrickfergus rider attributed his success to his ability to find the best braking points.
“I’ve been coming here for ten years and I’ve got lots of experience at working out the very latest braking spots here, especially at Juniper Hill chicane where it really matters,” he said.
“I’ve been working on that all day.”
Seeley needed all of those skills to make up ground in the Supersport race after he had to do a U-turn at York corner when Lee Johnston crashed on the opening lap.
“I was 16th after that but I chased the pack down and slowly reeled the pack in,” he explained.
“I made most of my time up on the brakes and got into the lead on the 5th lap.”
A new lap record of 116.606mph on lap four helped him move into the lead on the fifth lap but he was was pushed all the way by Guy Martin on the Tyco Suzuki on the Coast road on the final lap.
But the Lincolnshire rider lost out in an encounter with a backmarker on the approach to Black Hill on the last lap, leaving the Carrick rider free to take the chequered flag.
Black Hill was also the crucial point in the Superstock race, which Seeley had led in the opening stages on the Kawasaki.
On the penultimate lap he was caught and passed by first Michael Rutter (Batham’s BMW) and then Michael Dunlop (MD Racing BMW).
Dunlop seemed to have the race at his fingertips leading into Metropole but once again Seeley made his crucial move on the Coast road.
“Michael’s bike was getting out of shape after Church and I got past in the run up to Black Hill,” Seeley explained, as he took the win that moved him into fourth place in the all-time North West winners’ list.
Seeley may have won the race but it was Austrian visitor Horst Saiger who set a new lap record on his Saiger Racing.com Kawasaki ZX10 at 121.214mph. He finished fifth in the race behind Martin Jessopp on the Riders BMW.
Lee Johnston went from zero to hero after he won the Supertwins race following his earlier Supersport crash.
Johnston had been on pole for the twins race on the Pirtek Kawasaki and he hunted down early leader Ivan Lintin (McKinstry Kawasaki) and passed him on the final lap at Juniper Hill.
“It is great to get my first road North West win and my first road race win, especially after the way the night had begun with the crash,” Johnston smiled.
A huge crowd enjoyed an evening of sunshine and brilliant high speed racing on the 8.9 mile Triangle course as Keith Amor made it a full house of new lap records by raising the Supertwins speed to 108.644mph before his SGS KMR Kawasaki expired on the last lap.