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North West 200: Alastair Seeley gunning for Robert Dunlop record but legend's son stands in the way

By Paul Lindsay

Published 12/05/2016

Sweet 16: Alastair Seeley is one win away from breaking the NW200 record
Sweet 16: Alastair Seeley is one win away from breaking the NW200 record
Michael Dunlop
Miss North West 200 Chloe McMaster wins the competition in the paddock on Tuesday evening. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
Miss North West 200 Chloe McMaster is congratulated by third placed Hollie Hanson and runner up Shannon Henry after the competition in the paddock on Tuesday evening. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -10/05/2016. Picture by Dessie Loughery International North West 200 Supertwin Race Jeremy McWilliams (SGS/IEG/KMR Kawasaki )
Chloe McMaster named Miss North West 200 for 2016.
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th May 2016 Vauxhall International North West 200 Jill McWilliams along with her husband Jeremy McWilliams who is racing. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Chloe McMaster named Miss North West 200 for 2016.
Michael Rutter (Bathams/SMT Racing BMW ) during today's practices for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Chloe McMaster named Miss North West 200 for 2016.
Michael Dunlop (BMW ) during practice race for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Michael Dunlop is all smiles after setting fattest Superbike time during the opening practice session for the Vauxhall International North West 200. Picture by Stephen Davison
William Dunlop on the grid during the opening practice session for the Vauxhall International North West 200 today. Picture by Stephen Davison
Ben Wilson ready for the off at the opening practice session for the Vauxhall International North West 200 grid. Picture by Stephen Davison
Hector Neill looks over the grid. Vauxhall International North West 200.
Chloe McMaster named Miss North West 200 for 2016.
Vauxhall International North West 200. Philip Neill
Ian Hutchinson makes his way through the paddock.
Vauxhall International North West 200. Ryan Farquhar.
North West 200 2016 Bruce Anstey
Vauxhall International North West 200. Ian Hutchinson makes his way to the grid.
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. William Dunlop. Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th May 2016 Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. William Dunlop. Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th May 2016 Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
North West 200 2016 Practice has begun at the Vauxhall International North West 200 around the high speed Triangle circuit. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Vauxhall International North West 200. Michael Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. Danni Henry finance of Alastair Seeley. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th May 2016
North West 200 2016 Practice has begun at the Vauxhall International North West 200 around the high speed Triangle circuit. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. Conor Cummins Honda Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Pacemaker Belfast 10-5-16 Vauxhall International North West 200 - 2016 Alastair Seeley (Gearlink Kawasaki Kawasaki )during today's practices for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. Danni Henry along with finance Alastair Seeley. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Pacemaker Belfast 10-5-16 Vauxhall International North West 200 - 2016 Alastair Seeley (Gearlink Kawasaki Kawasaki )during today's practices for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. Jamie Hamilton. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Pacemaker Belfast 10-5-16 Vauxhall International North West 200 - 2016 Lee Johnston (East Coast Construction/Burdens Triumph ) during today's practices for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. Lee Johnston. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Pacemaker Belfast 10-5-16 Vauxhall International North West 200 - 2016 Lee Johnston (East Coast Construction/Burdens Triumph ) during today's practices for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. John McGuinness. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. Jeremy McWilliams and Michael Rutter. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye

The scene is set for motorcycle racing’s answer to a world heavyweight title showdown tonight as Carrick rider Alastair Seeley bids to overtake legend Robert Dunlop’s record of 15 wins at the Vauxhall International North West 200... with Robert’s son Michael Dunlop determined to stop him.

Seeley (36) will power his BMW and Kawasaki bikes off the grid in two races tonight with a warning from the late, great Robert’s son ringing in his ears.

“I will be doing all that I can to protect my dad’s record and to stop Alastair breaking it, if possible,” vowed Michael who will be riding for the Hawk BMW team in Superstock and the MD Yamaha in Supersport

The two riders go head to head in 600 Supersport and 1000 Superstock races on the north coast tonight, following a daytime practice session, with a Supertwins race in between. 

And despite the pressure on him, Seeley, who scored three wins last year to equal Robert Dunlop’s tally, said: “I will just do what I do every year – stay relaxed, enjoy the event and see if I can win some races. It would be great to break the record, but it’s not getting any easier.

“Of course I want to win a 16th North West and the plan is to try and get it out of the way on Thursday night. I don’t intend stopping there and my optimum career target would be 20 wins around here. It’s achievable, but as I always do, it’s one race at a time.”

Michael Dunlop may well have to rely on some sibling-support from elder brother William to keep Seeley at bay until Saturday’s main event at least when Seeley has four more races.

Michael and Seeley are evenly matched in the Superstock class, which saw total German domination on Tuesday, with BMW S1000RR machinery filling the top seven places.

But in Supersport, Dunlop needs to find almost eight seconds to be on a par with Wee Wizard Seeley, who topped Tuesday’s session with consummate ease on his Gearlink Kawasaki.

William Dunlop is now managing his own team, having parted company with CD Racing at the start of Race Week, but if his 182mph speed trap time is anything to go by – some 7mph quicker than Seeley – a fifth Vauxhall North West 200 win for him could be on the cards tonight

Miss North West 200 Chloe McMaster wins the competition in the paddock on Tuesday evening.
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
Miss North West 200 Chloe McMaster wins the competition in the paddock on Tuesday evening. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
Miss North West 200 Chloe McMaster is congratulated by third placed Hollie Hanson and runner up Shannon Henry after the competition in the paddock on Tuesday evening. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -10/05/2016. Picture by Dessie Loughery International North West 200 Supertwin Race Jeremy McWilliams (SGS/IEG/KMR Kawasaki )
Chloe McMaster named Miss North West 200 for 2016.
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th May 2016 Vauxhall International North West 200 Jill McWilliams along with her husband Jeremy McWilliams who is racing. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Chloe McMaster named Miss North West 200 for 2016.
Michael Rutter (Bathams/SMT Racing BMW ) during today's practices for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Chloe McMaster named Miss North West 200 for 2016.
Michael Dunlop (BMW ) during practice race for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Michael Dunlop is all smiles after setting fattest Superbike time during the opening practice session for the Vauxhall International North West 200. Picture by Stephen Davison
William Dunlop on the grid during the opening practice session for the Vauxhall International North West 200 today. Picture by Stephen Davison
Ben Wilson ready for the off at the opening practice session for the Vauxhall International North West 200 grid. Picture by Stephen Davison
Hector Neill looks over the grid. Vauxhall International North West 200.
Chloe McMaster named Miss North West 200 for 2016.
Vauxhall International North West 200. Philip Neill
Ian Hutchinson makes his way through the paddock.
Vauxhall International North West 200. Ryan Farquhar.
North West 200 2016 Bruce Anstey
Vauxhall International North West 200. Ian Hutchinson makes his way to the grid.
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. William Dunlop. Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th May 2016 Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. William Dunlop. Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th May 2016 Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
North West 200 2016 Practice has begun at the Vauxhall International North West 200 around the high speed Triangle circuit. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Vauxhall International North West 200. Michael Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. Danni Henry finance of Alastair Seeley. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th May 2016
North West 200 2016 Practice has begun at the Vauxhall International North West 200 around the high speed Triangle circuit. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. Conor Cummins Honda Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Pacemaker Belfast 10-5-16 Vauxhall International North West 200 - 2016 Alastair Seeley (Gearlink Kawasaki Kawasaki )during today's practices for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. Danni Henry along with finance Alastair Seeley. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Pacemaker Belfast 10-5-16 Vauxhall International North West 200 - 2016 Alastair Seeley (Gearlink Kawasaki Kawasaki )during today's practices for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. Jamie Hamilton. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Pacemaker Belfast 10-5-16 Vauxhall International North West 200 - 2016 Lee Johnston (East Coast Construction/Burdens Triumph ) during today's practices for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. Lee Johnston. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Pacemaker Belfast 10-5-16 Vauxhall International North West 200 - 2016 Lee Johnston (East Coast Construction/Burdens Triumph ) during today's practices for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. John McGuinness. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. Jeremy McWilliams and Michael Rutter. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye

Michael Dunlop set a provisional pole position time for Saturday’s Superbike races with a lap of 121.652mph in Tuesday’s practice.

With another day of wall-to-wall sunshine forecast, Dunlop’s time may well be topped during today’s second Superbike session, which will determine the grid for Saturday’s two blue-riband Superbike races. 

The Dunlops versus Seeley battle is something that takes a little bit of pressure off some of the other favourites this week, and top of that list is Tyco BMW rider Ian Hutchinson.

The 11-time Isle of Man TT winner cruised to provisional front-row starts in both the Superbike and Superstock categories, and was second fastest overall in the Supersport class aboard his Came BPT Yamaha.

A double tonight for Hutchinson is not out of the question and going by his present form in British championship, few would bet against it.

Online Editors

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