Phil Wain at the North West 200 |
TT and Roads
Lee Johnston took on a thrilling Supersport race at the North West 200 on Saturday after a long battle with Davey Todd (Milenco by Padgetts Honda). There wasn’t much to choose between the two and although Todd set a new lap record, Johnston timed his move to perfection at the Juniper Chicane on the final lap and took the win by a slim 0.079s. Michael Dunlop (MD Racing Yamaha) finished third.
Alastair Seeley (IFS Racing Yamaha) led Adam McLean (McAdoo Racing Kawasaki) and Todd off the line, but Todd overhauled them both at York Corner and he still led to the varsity of McLean, Johnston and Seeley. Dunlop placed fifth but McLean slowed down at Metropole and retired.
As they crossed the start and finish line at the end of the first lap, it was Johnston who was leading just 0.093 seconds behind Johnston and they had opened up a nearly three-second lead over Dunlop who had Seeley, Dean Harrison (DAO Racing Kawasaki), James Hillier (RICH Energy OMG Racing Yamaha), Jamie Coward (KTS Racing by Steadplan Yamaha) and Ian Hutchinson (BPE/Russell Racing Yamaha) just behind him.
Todd took the lead at the start/finish chicane and continued to lead Johnston into lap two with the pair arriving at Metropole side by side with Dunlop starting to bring them back.
By the end of the lap, Todd’s lead was 0.199s with Dunlop closing the deficit to 2.2s and it was now Harrison fourth two seconds clearer. Hutchinson was fourth ahead of Hillier, Jeremy McWilliams (Burrows by RK Racing Yamaha), Joseph Loughlin (Team ILR / Mark Coverdale Yamaha) and Coward. Seeley’s hopes of a 27th win ended when he retired, however.
Todd and Johnston continued to battle for the lead on lap three and the latter pinched inside Todd on the exit of Metropolis. The gap between the two was 0.252s at the start of lap four, but Dunlop was faster than both of them again, with the gap now down to 1.9s.
Harrison was seven seconds off fourth, but had a similar gap to fifth-placed Hutchinson, despite clearing the start/finish chicane, allowing new sixth-placed Coward to advance with Hillier as well. rear.
Back at the front of the pack and drama came at the Mathers Cross chicane when Todd got too hot and ran on the grass despite managing to stay up and stay in second place.
However, that gave Johnston some breathing room and his lead was 1.4 seconds as they entered the fifth and penultimate lap, Dunlop a similar gap behind in third. Harrison was riding lonely in fourth, but the battle for fifth was fierce with seven riders vying for position.
It was Loughlin who now dominated Coward and Hillier, but the latter’s run ended soon after when he took off coming out of York Corner. Hutchinson, meanwhile, gives up at the end of the round.
Todd had the bit between his teeth on his fast Honda and was back in the lead at Mathers Cross and, helped by a new lap record of 118.036mph, trailing by 0.295s going into the sixth and final lap. It was also a two-horse race with Dunlop now nearly six seconds behind.
It looked like Todd had done enough, but Johnston had other ideas and let his braking enter the Juniper Chicane later on holding on for the win by a slim 0.079, Dunlop took a comfortable third with Harrison also at comfortable in fourth and it was Coward who prevailed in the battle for fifth with Loughlin and Jordan following him across the line.
McWilliams took eighth place ahead of Michael Sweeney and Pierre Yves Bian.