Belfast Telegraph

Alastair Seeley's taking the gloves off in his bid to reign

By Paul Lindsay

Local sporting eyes will be firmly fixed on Belfast man Carl Frampton this coming Saturday night as he bids to become the IBF super-bantamweight World champion.

But near neighbour Alastair Seeley, also in the super-bantamweight category, will indeed need to show his fighting qualities this coming weekend at Donington Park if he's to maintain his challenge in this season's British Supersport Championship.

The double British motorcycle champion and 12-times winner at the International North West 200 is a boxing aficionado, and like Frampton, has trained at the famous Monkstown gym in Newtownabbey.

But while Frampton will be looking to perfect his combinations, ably backed by a vociferous 16,000-strong Belfast audience, Seeley needs to counterpunch strongly after a lacklustre weekend at Cadwell Park last time out if he's to put his rivals back on the ropes.

Seeley has taken five wins this season in the vivid blue livery of team sponsor, Mar-Train Heavy Haulage. It's more than any of his rivals, but uncharacteristically three no scores have left him trailing series leader Billy McConnell on the Smiths' Triumph by 38 points, with just four rounds and eight races remaining.

Speaking from his home in Carrickfergus, Seeley said: "We are coming to four tracks that I really like and they should suit the Mar-Train Yamaha. The bike definitely knows how to get round the Donington Park circuit, as Stuart Easton got the lap record on it last season," he joked.

Easton won the middleweight title last year for Mar-Train Racing in the British championship, then moved back to the Superbike class with the Rapid Solicitors' Kawasaki team, but is touted to be looking at a move in the opposite direction for 2015.

In recent weeks, if you threw a stone from the Mar-Train Racing camp, Easton wouldn't be too hard to hit, adding speculation to the likelihood of Seeley's future with the Northern Ireland-based team.

"I haven't spoken to Tim (Martin) about next year," said Seeley.

"We still have a job to complete this year, but I'd be happy enough to stay and do something similar. We won two races at the North West 200 but I think the team also learned a lot and could be stronger next year if we went back there together," Seeley added.

It's a well known fact that the Carrick man prefers a more neutral set-up on his Supersport bikes, like he had on the Gearlink Kawasaki last year and the TAS Suzuki he won the championship on back in 2011.

The R6 Yamaha, by nature, is very front-end biased, so it wasn't hard to guess what Seeley would prefer in 2015.

"The Yamaha is a great bike, but at some of the circuits it backs in and doesn't suit my style. We've won plenty of races on it this season, but a full stable of Kawasakis wouldn't be a bad choice," Seeley said.

With British championship and North West 200 pedigree on his side, Seeley will not struggle for offers in 2015, but should Tim Martin secure an all-Kawasaki or possibly even Yamaha deal for next season – to include British Supersport and the International Road Races – then the race for seats in his team will certainly hot up in the coming weeks.

Seeley will undoubtedly be high on the Temple businessman's list, along with prodigious road racing talent Dean Harrison, who fitted 'hand-in-glove' into the Mar-Train set-up this term.

But with Easton ominously waiting in the wings, Ian Hutchinson losing his seat at Milwaukee Yamaha and Michael Dunlop always keen to try something new, it will be interesting to see who jumps into the blue leathers of Mar-Train Racing in 2015.

Belfast Telegraph

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