Super Seeley setting sights on Supermac
I’d love to match Phillip’s five North West wins in a day, says Alastair
Carrick’s Alastair Seeley is the new undisputed King of the Vauxhall International North West 200, having taken his record breaking 16th win during Thursday night’s Supersport race.
And now the 36-year-old double British champion has his sights set on a career tally of 20 plus wins at the north coast event, which he believes ‘put him on the racing map’ in 2008 when he first claimed victory at the Triangle circuit.
Having set pole position in the Superbike, Supersport and Superstock classes for today’s races, the question on everyone’s lips is can the hard- charging County Antrim ace tick another box and equal Phillip McCallen’s long-standing record of five-in-a-day on the north coast?
Speaking of Supermac’s record, which has stood the test of time since 1992, Seeley said: “It would be a big ask, even though we now have a chance with the Superstock race being carried over from Thursday night. I’m now racing in five races on Saturday. The calibre of rider on the grid won’t make winning one race easy on Saturday never mind five, so I wouldn’t be disrespectful to them and say I’m going out to win them all.”
Since drawing level with Robert Dunlop on 15 wins, following his hat-trick with TAS Racing at the North West last year, Seeley has shown nothing but respect for the Ballymoney man.
Robert’s record stood the test of time, with his 15th and final win coming back in 2006. Seeley said he would be very proud to hold the record for 10 years, but has no intention of calling it a day on 16 successes.
Seeley added: “You can’t plan what I did on Thursday night. Yes I felt very comfortable in amongst the pack, but one minute I was leading and the next I was fifth or sixth. Coming into the last lap the plan was to put in a qualifying lap and that worked for me, but Saturday is a new day and every race will throw up different things.”
Looking ahead to today’s five races, the Wee Wizard said: “I will be setting all the hype and records aside and doing what I’ve always done here on the north coast: focus well and prepare one race at a time.
“My dad keeps my feet on the ground and he’s the last voice I hear. It does me good,” he said of his father Joe Seeley, who is his number one fan.
Giving credit to his former employer and friend at TAS Racing, with whom he won nine races at the NW200, he said: “Philip Neill taught me all about preparing for a whole day here and not just one race.
“It’s survival of the fittest when you are racing all day on the north coast. In those early days with TAS, Philip brought in a former pro-cyclist who knew all about nutrition and keeping myself in peak condition until the final race.
“That plan can’t be put in place on race day.
“That took months of preparation, but resulted in a lot of success.”
Success can certainly bring it’s own royalties, with McLean Bookmakers, Northern Ireland’s largest independent bookmaking chain, and one of the North-West’s chief sponsors, presenting Seeley with a special £1,600 cheque to mark the record- breaking achievement.
It’s small pickings in terms of bonuses earned by those involved in ball sports at the very highest level, but money alone is not the single biggest motivator on two wheels, and while it helps pay the bills Seeley has set himself new goals he’d like to reach on the north coast.
“I’d like to have at least 20 wins, then leave it to the young riders to catch up,” he smiled.
“It’s a nice total and who knows, there might be even more.” Looking back at how it all began, the former Carrickfergus Grammar School pupil said: “As a teenager I went to watch the North West with a group of pals.
“We spent the night drinking to all hours and then sleeping rough in a car before choosing a vantage point to watch the riders whizz by.
“It was either sitting in some hedge or a grassy bank, enjoying the racing.
“And I suppose now it’s a role reversal with people coming to watch me, especially now that I’ve broken Robert’s record.”
The Superbike class is the one they all want to win and Seeley is no different.
Only three of his 16 have come in the blue riband class, which he is only too aware of.
He said: “There’s no doubt the Superbike class is the elite one here at the North West and everyone wants to get their name beside the big one.
“I’ve done it in the past, so I’ve nothing to prove, but if I’d to pick a win or two on Satarday, then of course they would be my choice.”