Alastair Seeley is relaxed as he bids for glory on two fronts
IN just four week's time, Carrick's Alastair Seeley – 10 times a winner at the famous Triangle – will begin the defence of his Vauxhall International North West 200 crown.
But this weekend, the double British champion's main focus will be aimed firmly at Brands Hatch in Kent – where round one of the British Supersport Championship takes place on Easter Monday.
"I'm just packing up the motorhome with trunks and socks and getting ready to head off," joked the diminutive former Carrick Grammar School pupil when we spoke.
Fun and typical, close to the knuckle Northern Irish banter is always on the agenda when the notepad comes out to talk with the Wee Wizard, but his demeanour soon changes when the serious matter of racing is mentioned. His eyes narrow and the craic is set to one side, as the full-time day job in racing is a serious matter to the proud Ulsterman.
Topping the timesheets at last week's final pre-season test at Snetterton in Norfolk has given the 33-year-old all the confidence he requires to hit the ground running with new team and current British Supersport champions, Mar-Train Racing.
"The bikes are all brand new and the team and I have shown what we can do in the tests; my lap times are well in the ballpark, so it's just a matter of getting out with the other boys this weekend and getting stuck in," Seeley explained in his usual, direct and to the point vernacular.
Seeley lost out on last year's Supersport title to a red flag situation on the final day, aided by an uncharacteristic mid season blip.
This allowed Stuart Easton back into the title hunt, with the title eventually going the way of the Scottish rider and Lisburn based Mar-Train Racing.
The Carrick man took the defeat admirably, already knowing that the Mar-Train Yamaha ride was his for 2014, which undoubtedly softened the hammer blow. With Easton moving to the Superbike class for 2014, Seeley and Mar-Train will have to deal with new challengers for the number one plate this term, as he is well aware.
"Gowland and McConnell will be the men to beat I'd say on the Smiths Triumphs," was Seeley's initial summing up of the year ahead.
"Billy [McConnell] was coming strong at the end of last year, so he will be looking to carry some momentum into Brands this weekend and will definitely be a main candidate."
Aussie McConnell has finished third in the British middleweight division on two occasions and was runner-up in 2009, but the majority of fans already believe Seeley and Mar-Train are cast-iron favourites for the title, which surely must bring added pressure?
"I don't let the pressure get to me in either British Championship or at the North West 200," he openly admitted.
"I just take each weekend as it comes. This year I want to win the British title for Mar-Train Racing and edge as close as I can to those magical 15 wins of Robert Dunlop's at the North West 200.
"If it happens, it happens and if it doesn't, it doesn't. As long as I know we have given it our best shot, that's all that matters."