2022 NW200: Johnston wins Supersport thriller| Phil Wain at the North West 200 | TT and Roads
Lee Johnston took a thrilling Supersport race at the North West 200 on Saturday after a race long battle with Davey Todd (Milenco by Padgetts Honda). There was little 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 slender 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 both of them going into York Corner and he still led at University from McLean, Johnston and Seeley. Dunlop slotted into fifth but McLean slowed at Metropole and toured into retire.
As they crossed the start and finish line at the end of the first lap, it was Johnston who led by just 0.093s from Johnston and they’d opened up a near 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) right behind him.
Todd nipped ahead at the start/finish chicane and continued to lead Johnston round lap two with the duo arriving at Metropole side by side with Dunlop beginning to reel them back in.
At the end of the lap, Todd’s lead was 0.199s with Dunlop cutting the deficit to 2.2s and it was now Harrison in fourth a further two seconds back. Hutchinson was up to fourth from 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 though as he pulled in to retire.
Todd and Johnston continued to dispute the lead on lap three and the latter nipped up the inside of Todd as they exited the Metropole. The gap between the two was 0.252s as they started the fourth lap but Dunlop was again quicker than the both of them, the gap now down to 1.9s.
Harrison was seven second adrift in fourth but he had a similar gap to fifth placed Hutchinson although he overshot the start/finish chicane and that allowed new sixth placed man Coward to move ahead with Hillier also close behind.
Back at the head of the field and drama came at the Mathers Cross chicane when Todd arrived too hot and ran onto the grass although he managed to stay upright and stay in second place.
However, it gave Johnston a bit of breathing space and his lead was up to 1.4s as they started the fifth and penultimate lap, Dunlop a similar gap behind in third. Harrison was having a lonely ride in fourth but the battle for fifth was red-hot with seven riders disputing the position.
It was Loughlin who now held sway ahead of Coward and Hillier but the latter’s race ended soon afterwards when he high-sided coming out of York Corner. Hutchinson, meanwhile, retired at the end of the lap.
Todd had the bit between the teeth on his rapid Honda and was back in the lead at Mathers Cross and, aided by a new lap record of 118.036mph, led by 0.295s going into the sixth and final lap. It was also a two-horse race with Dunlop now almost six seconds adrift.
It looked like Todd had done enough but Johnston had other ideas and left his braking later going into the Juniper Chicane holding on for the win by a slender 0.079s, Dunlop took a comfortable third with Harrison equally 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 from Michael Sweeney and Pierre Yves Bian.