When Thursday evenings official races began, who would have thought that were would have some of the most exciting and changeable races in recent years, and that’s before Saturdays racking has even begun.
The drama began before even any of the bikes lined the start line with two cars left on the circuit during the break between the practice races and Thursdays night racing.
After a multitude of announcements and chances for the owners to remove these, they were removed on the back of a lorry, ending in an expensive trip to the North West 200 for the owners!
When racing begun in this 6 lap race, it was Seeley who was the fan favourite to retain his Supersport title, having won every Supersport race since 2010.
Seeleys chances of the win increased when another race favourite, Peter Hickman, was forced to retire at Metropole with a stone in his bikes radiator.
This wouldn’t be the last of the bikes forced to retire when in lap 3 Connor Cummings pulled out of the races and Paul Jordan who was in fifth with Michael Dunlop behind him, retired allowing Dunlop to move up the pack.
Into the final straight it was Alastair Seeley in the lead, followed by Lee Johnston who had been strong all day in practices and Dean Harrison in third.
Coming into the Juniper Hill Chaicane it looked likely that Seeley would add another win to his record breaking tally at the North West, only for the rider to clip the side of it and tumble from his bike giving Lee Johnston the win in this years 1st Supersport race, having had his first win back in 2015.
Alastair Seeley wasn’t badly hurt in the fall, other than his pride, and is expected to compete in Saturdays races.
The podium winners were 1st Lee Johnston, 2nd Dean Harrison and 3rd James Hillier.
A stone in his radiator during the previous race wouldn’t stop Peter Hickman getting on the bike again in the second race of the evening, the 1st Superstock race.
Hickman set the pace from the start and continued as Dean Harrison and Glenn Irwin fought hard chasing each other down for 2nd position, followed up the rear by Lee Johnston.
Ian Hutchinson, who’s North West has really yet to get started, retired from the race coming into the pit at the end of lap 4
The 5th lap also saw a battle for fifth between Dunlop and Hillier but Dean Harrison who was leading the race came off at University corner propelling Irwin into first.
However Hillier would overtake Irwin putting him in first, Irwin in second and Dunlop in third, positionS which would be carried over the finish line giving all three podium positions.
Despite not getting a podium position, newcomer to the North West circuit, Richard Cooper, held his own among veteran North West racers and polled in the top third of the table coming in sixth, impressive for a racer who has never raced competitively on this North Coast circuit,
With the crowds and riders adrenaline running high after the first two races, it would take something else to make the final race of the evening special, and it didn’t disappoint.
With only 4 laps to this race, it left the riders with less track to make an impact and this was certainly true for Glenn Irwin who retired from the race during lap 1.
Jeremy McWilliams was one of the favourites only for his chances cut short in lap 2 when he was forced to retire from the race after coming off at Mathers Cross, leading to the events Italian racer take the lead, Stefano Bonetti
Rutter was another favourite and setting off from 2nd position On the grid, the rider was hoping to make 14 wins at the North West 15 and match the late Robert Dunlop total.
With Bonetti in the lead, favourite Jamie Coward took the lead into lap 4 but this was short lived at at Mathers Cross, the Italian Bonetti takes back the lead from Coward and by Metropole he was three bikes length ahead of Coward in second and Rutter in third, a lead which would see the Italian take a win at the North West 200.
The final podium was, 1st Stefano Bonetti, 2nd Jamie Coward and 3rd Michael Rutter.
Saturdays roads close from 9.15am with the final five races to be held for this years North West 200 in its special 90th year.