North West 200: Wee Wizard Alastair Seeley keeps weaving his magic over chasing pack
Alastair Seeley, who has dominated in both wet and dry conditions so far at this year's Vauxhall North West 200, starts tomorrow's Superbike races from pole after setting a scorching pace in final qualifying yesterday, leaving the opposition to play catch up.
The 35-year-old Carrickfergus rider took his Tyco BMW around the 8.9-mile Triangle circuit at a speed of 121.552mph, some two and a half seconds ahead of the ECC/Burdens BMW of Lee Johnston (120.008mph) with John McGuinness third fastest at 120.001mph on his Honda.
The session was red flagged at half distance and then abandoned when a fire engine was required to attend an on-course fire, just as Seeley was about to head back out for a final few laps.
Seeley, who won Superbike races in 2010 and 2012, said: "I came in to put on a new rear tyre to test it, as the one we had been using wasn't so good. Still, I'm happy to be starting from pole although there is no prize money for qualifying."
In fact, Seeley starts all his races tomorrow from pole position as he closes in on Robert Dunlop's record tally of 15 wins - he moved one step closer last night with victory in the Supersport, taking his tally to 13.
Talk of matching or bettering Robert's record doesn't faze the Wee Wizard.
"I don't think about the record. It's so hard to win races around here and you need a bit of luck. I just go out and do my best and see where it takes me," he said.
Flying Kiwi Bruce Anstey starts from fourth position and is showing there's life in the old dog yet.
"This is the fastest bike I have been on at the North West and it seems the older I get the faster I get, so I'll stick at it a while yet," he said.
William Dunlop, also Tyco BMW mounted, finished in a brave fifth position having earlier high-sided out of Supersport qualifying, exiting York Corner suffering a lower back injury.
"I just went out in the Superbike session trying to put in a time," he explained. "I landed on my back and I'm lucky I didn't break anything. I'll have to see how things are after this run around and take a decision about Saturday."
Meanwhile, Michael Dunlop starts the Superbike races from seventh position sandwiched between Michael Rutter and Dean Harrison as he gets to grips with the all-new Milwaukee R1 Yamaha.
Final Superbike Qualifying: 1st A. Seeley 121.552mph, 2 L. Johnston 120.428, 3 J. McGuinness 120.001, 4 B. Anstey 119.678, 5 W. Dunlop 119.371, 6 M. Rutter 119.06.
Martin under fire after his stinging outburst
Guy Martin set tongues wagging and social media alight after comments he made about the North West 200 circuit yesterday.
The 33-year-old Lincolnshire ace, now combining a TV career alongside his day job as a truck mechanic and an incredibly fast road racer for the Tyco BMW Motorrad Racing Team, launched into a rant during qualifying.
“I’m not a fan of the circuit. In fact, I get bored going around it with all the chicanes that have been installed over the last few years,” said Martin, still seeking an elusive first victory at the world-renowned event.
“It is not really a road race anymore, more of a short circuit. My Tyco BMW is so good my granny could ride it in a straight line around here.”
Quick to hit back at Martin was rider co-ordinator and Belfast Telegraph columnist for the week Phillip McCallen.
“The year I first raced here, granted there were not as many chicanes,” said the man with 11 Triangle wins on his own CV.
“However, to say he got bored, personally speaking, you never get bored when you’re winning.”
Martin later went out in Superbike qualifying and finished the shortened session in 14th position, just over 15 seconds slower than pole position man Alastair Seeley.