Title capture is top of Alastair Seeley's wish list for 2015
Carrickfergus racer Alastair Seeley currently sits on 12 wins at the Vauxhall International North West 200, just three shy and within touching distance of the all-time event record, held by the late, great Robert Dunlop.
The Ballymoney legend's North West record is certainly tucked away on Seeley's to-do list but it's not the only goal on the Tyco BMW rider's business plan, as he enters the opening test of 2015 with his new team at Cartagena in Spain today.
"Obviously everyone wants to ask the question about Robert's record at the North West 200, but the main goal this season is to try and win the 1000cc Superstock class in British championship for Tyco and BMW," said Seeley, who has won races for three different manufacturers at the North West and two British titles for Suzuki.
"I sometimes forget I've won so many at the North West as they just keep racking up, and while Robert's record would be nice to equal, it's not something I'm too hung up on. If it happens, it happens," said Seeley, who was more concerned about his beloved Arsenal getting "chinned" last week in the Champions League during our informal chat aboard the flight to Alicante.
Both of Seeley's British titles have come with local team TAS Racing, and despite going close to making it a hat-trick in 2013 and 2014 with both Gearlink Kawasaki and Mar-Train Racing respectively, the diminutive Ulsterman feels very much like the prodigal son, being back under the wing of TAS Racing's Hector and Philip Neill.
But does he feel a return to the 1000cc Superstock class is a backwards step in his career?
"I think if you asked any rider, would they consider a deal to ride for the official BMW Motorrad team in any British championship class and at the North West 200 as a step back, they would say no," was his unambiguous response.
"I'm back in a team where I feel very comfortable; they gave me my first opportunity to race professionally, and I've won seven North Wests with them and two British titles, so it feels like I've never been away," he added.
On his return to the Superstock class, which he won emphatically back in 2009 after nine consecutive victories, he smiled: "Back then it was Brogie (Steve Brogan) I had to contend with on a Honda, but this time I've a few more miles on the clock and there will be quite a few whipper-snappers at my heels."
With his usual air of confidence, the man fans have dubbed the Wee Wizard said of his season game plan: "It would be nice to wrap it up like we did the last time, then be able to lift the phone to Philip Neill and ask him to ride a Superbike at the final three rounds."
The trademark high-pitched laugh and cheeky grin followed, before a touch of heavy turbulence wiped both it and the colour from his cheeks. Recomposed, he added: "So no, I don't see the Superstock class as a backwards step and the goal really is to win it and push for a Superbike ride in 2016. I did have other options this year; some of those were for the Superbike class, but this is where I want to be."
Explaining that option as we came in to land, he concluded: "I'm working with a proven team and crew, and with riders like Michael Laverty - who I rode alongside in 2010, and has bags of experience right up to the highest level - and Tommy Bridewell who is the current BSB number three. I think I've made the correct choice."