William Dunlop provided Wilson Craig with his first international road race victory as he denied British Supersport champion Alastair Seeley in the first Supersport race at the North West 200.
Dunlop was in phenomenal form on Craig's CBR600RR as he hit the front on the first lap and stayed there until the end, with the race stopped on the fifth lap due a crash involving Seeley's Tyco Suzuki team-mate Guy Martin at Black Hill.
All the hype leading up to the event had been focused on Seeley's quest to equal Phillip McCallen's 1992 feat of five wins in a day, but Dunlop spoilt the party in the very first race of the day.
John McGuinness rode a solid race in third to bag a rostrum finish for Clive Padgett's Honda team.
Dunlop's team-mate Cameron Donald was fourth followed by Gary Johnson on his privately run 600cc Honda and Michael Dunlop on the Ard Na Mara Homes/McAdoo Suzuki GSX-R600.
Dunlop, who was celebrating his third victory at the North West 200 and his first win in the four-stroke classes, said: “It was hard work and I was lucky to get the win. I ran over the grass at the chicane on that lap.
“I was really confident when I saw my board and I knew I had a bit of a gap, but then the race was cut short.
“I didn't really know what I would do with Seeley if it came down to the last lap at the chicane but I was lucky because we had such a strong motor in the bike and I had good top speed on the straights.”
Seeley had been closing the gap as the race progressed, reducing Dunlop's mid-race advantage of three seconds to less than a second on the fifth lap of a scheduled six-race distance, but his challenge was ended prematurely when the red flags came out due to Martin's crash.
“It was a pity about the red flag. I wanted to get close to William for that last lap because his bike was a missile," he said.
"If you have the speed to get to the front here then it's always best to try and break away, but it's not always easy.”