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Seeley's 16th victory was sweetest of the lot

Pick your sporting moment of 2016

By Steven Beacom

For Alastair Seeley it was a dream come true.

Over many years, the Carrickfergus rider had whizzed around the North West 200 circuit winning races in a style all of his own.

The tally continued to rise as Seeley showed his class in meeting after meeting. He enjoyed every victory but none were as sweet as the triumph he secured to break a legendary record.

The late great Robert Dunlop had won 15 times at the North West road races and there were many bike fans who felt Dunlop's number would never be surpassed. Even Robert's iconic brother Joey didn't reach 15 let alone 16.

But Seeley kept racing and kept on winning.

The Carrick native had been level with Dunlop going into the opening Supersport race at the world renowned event earlier this year.

Michael Dunlop, one of Robert's sons, didn't make it off the grid because of mechanical problems. Whether he could have stopped Seeley is something we will never know.

The race turned out to be a thriller - fitting for the historic nature of the occasion.

Seeley, Lee Johnston, Ian Hutchinson and William Dunlop, another of Robert's boys, were all out challenging early on.

The pace was unrelenting as Seeley, Hutchinson and Martin Jessopp broke the class lap record on the final circuit much to the excitement of the thousands of enthusiastic spectators.

Eventually Seeley pulled away from Hutchinson and Jessopp to take top spot on the podium and the record.

Overjoyed at the finish, Seeley said: "To beat the record is incredible and even to be mentioned in the same sentence as the Dunlops is unbelievable. It was the North West that put me on the map when I first came here and now I have won 16 times. It's a magical feeling."

It's remarkable to think that Seeley has won at least one event at the North West for nine years in a row and just as impressive is the fact that he has been victorious in at least one Supersport race from 2010 to 2016.

There may be more to come, but the recordbreaking ride in May will surely always be the best of the lot.

 

The Belfast Telegraph want YOU, our readers, to decide what was Northern Ireland's greatest sporting moment of 2016.

Over the next two weeks we will be reflecting on the 10 shortlisted moments from this year.

You can vote for your favourite at www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sport in the Sports Awards section.

Here are all your options:

•Gareth McAuley's Euro 2016 NI goal v Ukraine

•Carl Frampton beating Leo Santa Cruz

•Jonathan Rea retaining his World Superbike title

•Bethany Firth's golden world record

•Jason Smyth's gold at Paralympics

•Michael McKillop's gold at Paralympics

•Rory Best leading Ireland to victory over New Zealand

•Rory McIlroy winning FedEx Cup

•Tyrone lifting the Ulster Championship

•Alastair Seeley breaking Robert Dunlop's NW200 record

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