Martin Jessopp finally became an international race winner as he edged a fast and furious Supersport race at the Vauxhall International North West 200 on Thursday evening.
Pre-race favourite Alastair Seeley retired after two laps on the Gearlink Kawasaki with a reported electrical issue as a blistering battle developed at the front.
Jessopp, riding the Riders Motorcycles Triumph 675, was the early leader as a group of seven riders began to make a break for it.
The Yeovil man and Ian Hutchinson on his new McAMS Yamaha disputed the lead on the first laps as Lee Johnston (Jackson Honda), Dean Harrison (Silicone Engineering Kawasaki), James Hillier (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) and Michael and William Dunlop on their Yamaha machines jostled for position.
At the end of lap three, only 1.7 seconds separated the high-speed train of seven riders with Hutchinson in front at the halfway mark from Harrison and Jessopp.
However, on lap four, Jessopp was back in front at Ballysally chased by Harrison, Hillier and Johnston as Hutchinson dropped back to fifth ahead of Michael Dunlop.
Jessopp was attempting to make a break for it and began to put some daylight between himself and the chasing pack, opening a gap of 1.2 seconds with a lap to go.
Hutchinson hauled himself back into second place on the penultimate lap and was now in hot pursuit of the leader. He reduced the deficit on the final lap, but was unable to get close enough to make a move as Jessopp secured Triumph’s first NW200 victory since 1970.
Bingley Bullet Hutchinson was 0.7 seconds behind at the line with Hillier sealing the final rostrum spot. In fourth place, Harrison had the consolation of setting the fastest lap of the race at 116.423mph.
Fermanagh man Johnston and William Dunlop on his IC/Caffrey Yamaha were the top six, with Michael Dunlop seventh on his MD Racing Yamaha.