Alastair Seeley will roll back years as he looks for Superbike ride
Double British champion Alastair Seeley says age should not be a barrier as he looks to capture a British Superbike ride for 2016.
The 35-year-old currently holds second place in the National Superstock 1000 class behind fellow Ulsterman Josh Elliott, and the 15-time North West 200 winner insists that 'win lose or draw', his ultimate goal is to get back on a Superbike next season.
We caught up with the Wee Wizard from Carrick on a flying visit to Valencia in Spain for testing and a BMW press engagement.
Seeley has a long-standing relationship with Philip Neill's Moneymore team TAS Racing, and ideally would like to be considered for a Superbike seat one one of their Tyco BMW machines next season.
"I've a bit of unfinished business in the Superbike class," said Seeley, who last competed in BSB's premier class in 2012.
And although he finished outside the top 10, with a podium at Brands Hatch on the opening day the only highlight, he firmly believes he can rediscover the form that saw him take a top six spot two years previous.
"In 2009 I won the Superstock championship with TAS and moved up to Superbike for 2010, where we made the top six. 2012 didn't go to plan for a number of reasons but having spent this season in Superstock on a 1000cc bike, I think I could make the step and be competitive next season," said Seeley, who has had four wins so far this year on the Tyco BMW S1000RR.
With the paddock grapevine already hot with gossip and seats being earmarked for the leading riders, the diminutive Ulsterman said he would like to get his name in the mix for a BSB ride, but would he leave TAS Racing to get one?
"I left TAS after that 2012 season and went back to Supersport, riding with Gearlink in 2013 and Mar-Train in 2014. Had I stayed I would maybe have jumped to 17 or 18 wins at the North West," explained Seeley, whose slight digression proves that any deal would need to include a strong package for the May showpiece on the north coast.
"Honestly. I'd be very reluctant to leave as I've a great relationship with Hector and Philip," said Seeley, who has recorded 10 of his 15 wins at the North West 200 on TAS Racing machinery.
With his 36th birthday fast approaching, I asked somewhat bluntly - are his Superbike aspirations a case of 'heart ruling the head', that has the potential of ending his career a little abruptly if he repeats the disappointment of 2012?
"I won at Brands on a Superbike back in 2010 and had two other podiums. If you look at the championship standings I beat the likes of Ellison, Easton and Bridewell, who are now front-runners in BSB. So why would I not be competitive," contended Seeley.
"It's two wheels and a throttle and I've been riding a 1000cc bike all year, so I've already adapted my style, whereas in previous years I was making the step up from a 600, which wasn't ideal.
"The step up doesn't worry me. If it did, I'd stay in Stock 1000 and win races for the next three or four years comfortably."
With time comes change, and the evolution of the BSB series has seen the removal of electronic rider aids like traction and launch control. This season we've already witnessed former GP riders Michael Laverty and Broc Parkes struggle to readapt to 220bhp, controlled solely by their right hand.
Granted, Laverty has made the BSB Showdown top six with Tyco BMW, while Parkes has been put on gardening leave by Milwaukee Yamaha, so why does Seeley believe he can do a better job?
"I rode without it in 2012, and there were a number of reasons why we struggled, but I'm not one for pointing fingers. TAS is a great team and as I say, I'd love to stay.
"One more season in Superstock wouldn't be a disaster, and while I'd like the Superbike ride to be on a Tyco BMW, I will keep my options open."