North West 200: Johnston wins Supersport thriller as Seeley crashes out

Lee Johnston leads from Alastair Seeley in the first Supersport race of 2019
Lee Johnston leads from Alastair Seeley in the first Supersport race of 2019
North West 200 international road races
Dates: Tuesday 14 May-Saturday 18 May Venue: Triangle Circuit, Portstewart, Coleraine, Portrush
Coverage: All practices and races live on the BBC Sport website and BBC Radio Ulster; Highlights on BBC One NI Friday 17 May, Sunday 19 May and Monday 20 May

Alastair Seeley's late crash let Lee Johnston through to win the Supersport race while Peter Hickman and Stefano Bonetti also secured NW 200 victories.

Seeley was on course to extend his record number of wins to 25 but he slipped off at the final corner and Johnston seized his chance.

Hickman eased to his second NW win as he came in ahead of Glenn Irwin and Michael Dunlop in the Superstocks.

Bonnetti became the first Italian winner with his Supertwin success.

The 42-year from Bergamo held off the late challenge of pole-setter Jamie Coward to take victory on his Paton machine on a sun-kissed Thursday night on the north coast.

Bonetti was competing with no sponsorship and 14 years after his first appearance at the event.

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'Better than winning the lottery' - Bonetti becomes first Italian NW200 winner

Former MotoGP rider Jeremy McWilliams was leading when he came off at a chicane on the second lap.

Michael Rutter secured his 33rd podium finish at the North West 200 but he was well back in third.

Lincolnshire man Hickman looked good in qualifying and he dominated the six-lap Superstock race on the Triangle Course.

Hickman, who won his first NW 200 race last year in the same class, moved into a commanding 3.2 second lead going into the final lap.

Glenn Irwin gave pursuit but there was no catching the the 32-year-old on BMW while Michael Dunlop came in third.

"It is a fantastic bike, it has worked straight out of the box," said a delighted Hickman.

Peter Hickman sits on top of the podium after his Superstock success
Peter Hickman sits on top of the podium after his Superstock success

"I just wanted to get to the front as early as I could, get my head down and get on with it.

"You can get caught up in a battle and never get away in a race, but I knew if I could get away a little bit I would be ok so that's what I was."

Seeley was unhurt in his late crash as he was denied a 13th Supersport win at the North West 200.

The Carrick man trailed Fermanagh rider Johnston for most of the opening laps but he made his move on the final lap to go in front.

But under pressure from Johnston he went wide and tumbled with the chequered flag in his sights.

It was first NW200 victory for Johnston since 2015 while James Hillier was third in a dramatic race.

Dean Harrison, Lee Johnston and James Hiller take to the podium following the Supersport opener
Dean Harrison, Lee Johnston and James Hiller take to the podium following the Supersport opener

"I have had a bad few years and it feels so good to be back with a team that believe in me," said Johnston.

"I just feel comfortable and my riding is showing that again. I am chuffed to bits, hopefully there are a few more wins to come."

There's more action on Saturday with the five-race programme including both Superbike races.

NORTH WEST 200 RESULTS

Supersport 1
1.Lee JohnstonYamaha116.058 mph
2.Dean HarrisonKawasaki116.007
3.James HillierKawasaki115.943
4.Michael DunlopHonda114.316
5.Jamie CowardYamaha114.217
6.Ian HutchinsonHonda114.155
Superstock 1
1.Peter HickmanBMW121.908
2.Glenn IrwinKawasaki121.762
3.Michael DunlopBMW120.975
4.James HillierKawasaki120.939
5.Lee JohnstonBMW120.871
6.Richard CooperSuzuki120. 085
Supertwin 1
1.Stefano BonettiPaton 109.257
2.James Coward Kawasaki109.203
3.Michael Rutter Kawasaki108.572
4.James ChawkePaton106.898
5.Horst SaigerPaton106.873
6.Francesco CuringaPaton106.797