World Supersport rider Martin Jessopp pulverised the top speed record at the Relentless International North West 200 with a phenomenal 208mph blast through the timing beam, but it was Ulster hero Alastair Seeley who set the pace in the opening Superbike qualifying session.

Jessopp, who is back on the Riders Ducati he used at the North West 200 last year and rode in the British Superbike Championship prior to his switch to World Supersport, cracked Scotsman Stuart Easton's previous best speed of 204mph set on the Swan Honda Fireblade in 2010.

However, he had to settle for the fifth fastest time overall, with Tyco Suzuki's Seeley living up to his favourite tag by securing provisional pole in the opening practice session on his BSB-spec GSX-R1000.

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Seeley's best lap of 120.68mph for the 8.9-mile circuit on Northern Ireland's North Coast put him ahead of Honda TT Legends ace John McGuinness (119.23mph), with over three seconds between the pair.

William Dunlop was third quickest on Wilson Craig's Honda (118.43mph) as two Ulster riders filled the top three positions, with Guy Martin next at 117.91mph and record-breaker Jessopp fifth (117.61mph).

Swan Yamaha's Ian Hutchinson was an incredible sixth fastest on his road racing return, lapping at 117.56mph and also managing a top speed of 202.5mph on the YZF-R1.

Michael Dunlop on the Hunts Motorcycles/McAdoo Honda rounded out the leading seven with an average speed of 117.54mph.

Jessopp, who lit up the first practice session with that phenomenal 208mph top speed on the run down the long straight from the ferociously fast Station Corner to University, may have been aided by a tail wind, but nonetheless his name has gone into the North West 200 history books.

"It was a bit of an eye-opener travelling at that speed," Jessopp said. "It felt like my arms were going to come out of my shoulders but I think I could've gone even faster.

"I was out on my own when I did it and if I'd have a slipstream from someone it could have been faster.

"It's nice to have the fastest speed but that's not what we're here for and we're not on the front row yet, so we've still got work to do," added Jessopp, who is competing on the Riders PTR Honda in the World Supersport class this year.

A slight delay due to a petrol spill on the circuit was only a minor setback as the organisers ran all practice sessions efficiently before the heavens opened in the afternoon.

Final qualifying is due to take place on Thursday, with the first races - the Supertwin and opening Superstock race - taking place after daytime practice on Thursday.

The main event on Saturday features five races, including two Superbike and Supersport events plus the second Superstock race.