Lee Johnston secured his fourth North West 200 victory and his first in four years when he claimed the Supersport win last Thursday. The Maguiresbridge rider triumphed in a dramatic race that saw Alastair Seeley crash out of contention on the final chicane as the pair battled for the top spot. His error allowed Johnston, a long time race leader, to take the chequered flag and top the podium.

Johnston also secured a fifth placed finish on his BMW in the Superstock race as he made a good start to the weekend, but rain and mechanical problems meant he was unable to add to his success on a frustrating Saturday of intermittent action.

“We had a great start on Thursday with a 600 win,” said Lee.

“Saturday came and so did the rain! We gave the Supersport race a bash, after several non racing delays and rain and road contamination and a blow up right in front on the way to university on the restart, myself and my Ashcourt Racing team decided to call it a day and get ready to head to the Isle of Man TT with everything in one piece!”

Lee went into the first major road race of the season hoping that his increased time on the bike in the British Supersport Championship would pave the way to a successful weekend, and he was quickly on the pace in practice and qualifying.

He put his Ashcroft Racing Yamaha on pole position in the Supersport grid, and was sitting fifth in the Superstock and sixth on the Superbike.

The opening race on Thursday evening quickly turned into a two way fight between Lee and North West specialist Alastair Seeley. Lee led for much of the race, but Seeley was always a threat and started the last lap in the lead. Johnston made his way past halfway around the last lap but it came down to the final chicane. Seeley tried to dive up the inside but ran wide onto the grass and fell, allowing Johnston to take the chequered flag. “I thought I was going to go for it, and whatever happens happens,” said Lee. “I knew where my braking marker was and I knew if he came past me he wasn’t getting stopped. I have had a bad few years and it feels so good to be back with a team of people that believe in me and build good bikes. I feel comfortable and my riding is showing that again.”

Lee followed up his victory with a fifth place finish in the Superstock race, and went into the weekend hopeful of more success. The weather was to play a crucial role on Saturday however. The Supersport race was red flagged on the first lap and the restart was also cut short in treacherous conditions, with Lee opting out from further races to conserve the bikes. He now heads to the Isle of Man in search of a race victory over the legendary mountain course. Practice for the TT starts this Saturday, with the final Senior TT race taking place on June 6.

Paul Gartland was also in action at the weekend on his North West Gas Kawasaki. Paul, having qualified in Group B, had a good run in Thursday evening’s Superstock race, finishing 10th in his group, and 22nd overall.

The contrast in conditions didn’t deter Paul from riding superbly in the first Superbike on Saturday finishing seventh in his group and 15th overall. Unfortunately this was to be his last race of the day, and like many other riders, withdrew from the second Superstock race, before the final Superbike race of the day was cancelled, which brought the 2019 FonaCab North West 200 to a close.