North West 200: Red-hot Alastair Seeley determined to pick up where he left off
The first three races of the 2015 Vauxhall International North West 200 take place this evening as Supersport, Superstock and Supertwin machines take to the roads.
The first markers have already been laid down in qualifying and the big question is, who can beat Alastair Seeley?
The 'Wee Wizard', fastest in all three main classes on Tuesday on his Tyco machinery, is determined to add to his total of 12 wins at the North West.
He is brimming with confidence at the moment and lines up this evening with a double win not beyond his reach in the Supersport and Superstock encounters after gaining confidence with victory in the recent British Championship Superstock 1000cc race at Oulton Park.
The 35-year-old Carrickfergus man rides the same Tyco BMW he campaigns on the BSB scene in Superstock, but reverts to Suzuki power under the Tyco umbrella for the Supersport race with his hunger for victory undiminished since his first North West victory in 2000.
Of course, the opposition is formidable with the Dunlop brothers William and Michael leading the way to ensure Seeley doesn't grab all the headlines.
Both ride Yamahas in the Supersport class. Michael is riding a Yamaha in both races while William will be on the CD/IC/Caffrey Yamaha in Supersport and will revert back to Tyco BMW for Superstock.
There is a long list of riders with race-winning potential in these two classes - Guy Martin (Tyco BMW) is chasing his first North West 200 victory, Dean Harrison is spearheading Mar-Train Yamaha's International road race campaign and Gary Johnson is riding under GB Moto Kawasaki colours in Superstock and under the Mar-Train Yamaha banner in Supersport.
Also in contention are Lee Johnston on board the ECC/Burden BMW in Superstock and Triumph in Supersport, Honda Racing duo John McGuinness and Conor Cummins and you can never discount Michael Rutter, Bruce Anstey or Ian Hutchinson.
Two men capable of upsetting the applecart are Horst Saiger, the current Superstock lap record holder, and newcomer Glenn Irwin in Supersport.
However, all of the talk surrounds Seeley closing in on Robert Dunlop's record of 15 North West 200 victories, but he is playing it down.
He said: "I know that the record isn't far away, but knowing how hard it is to win a race around here and knowing the quality of the opposition, it is not something I can say I'm going out to achieve.
"You need to be in the right place at the right time to win what are usually tight races and of course luck plays an important part in it as well."
The potential frontunners in the Supertwin class are James Hillier, Ryan Farquhar and his SGS KMR team-mate Jeremy McWilliams, Jamie Hamilton, James Cowton, Derek McGee, Irwin and Michael Dunlop.
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