Alastair Seeley wants to give new boss NW200 triumph
The opening races for this year’s Vauxhall International North West 200 get under way later this evening with Alastair Seeley — 10 times a winner on the north coast — looking to give local team Mar-Train Racing their first-ever win at the Triangle.
Seeley’s ‘day job’ with Mar-Train is to retain the British Supersport title, which the Temple based team won last season with Scottish ace Stuart Easton.
It’s well known in racing circles that team owner Tim Martin is a self-confessed North West 200 aficionado, and a win at the showpiece event is on his bucket list.
With four career victories in both the Supersport and Superstock classes, few would bet against Seeley taking at least one win in either of this evening’s races: the Ballymoney Borough Council Supersport race over six laps or the Pirtek Superstock encounter over the same distance, which sandwich race two — the Vauxhall Supertwins class over a shorter four laps of the 8.9-mile circuit.
Looking ahead, Seeley said: “We’ve obviously to get today’s practice sessions out of the way and we’ve still to get the Superstock bike qualified, but it’s all geared towards tonight’s two races for us in the Mar-Train Racing team.”
Speaking of tonight’s Supersport aspirations, where he will undoubtedly start favourite, the diminutive Carrick man didn’t give too much away in his summing up: “We could have gone faster in Tuesday’s session on the Supersport bike, but the R6 is a bike I’m familiar with now, so I’m confident that we can put in a good performance.”
On the Superstock bike, he added: “We’ve still to qualify the Superstock bike in Thursday’s session, but I’ve gelled well with the Mar-Train Kawasakis — both the stock bike and the Superbike. We ironed out a few problems with them on Tuesday and the bike has plenty of speed, which I’m pleased with.”
Unlike his British championship counterparts Michael Rutter and Josh Brookes, who are used to earning close to six figure wages during a racing season, Seeley relies on the north coast showpiece for a decent payday.
His main aspirations will be to add to his North West 200 Superbike tally of two wins on Saturday, as he openly admitted: “I’d like to win the main North West 200 Superbike race as that’s the one everybody remembers,” he said without any hesitation.
But he then explained that the favourite tag would more than likely come in the Supersport class, where he has previously won a British title and currently campaigns for Mar-Train.
“Yeah, everyone will expect me to be the man to beat in Supersport, as it’s where I ride in the British Championship. It’s not always as easy as that with so many other top class riders on the grid, but the Yamaha should be well suited to the North West as we know it has plenty of speed.
“I know I’ll feel comfortable on it and a win in Thursday night’s race would set us up well for the rest of the week, but we’ll have to wait and see.”
The provisional pole position man [from Tuesday’s session] in the Supersport class is Tyco Suzuki rider William Dunlop.
Both he and Seeley have previous history on the North Coast following the ‘rubbing’s racing’ quote by Seeley, after an incident at Church Corner a few years ago. With no love lost between the pair, Dunlop will be looking to get one over on the Carrickfergus man, and be the first to take a win for their respective new teams.
The danger man for both Dunlop and Seeley in Supersport will be 13-time North West 200 winner Michael Rutter.
The 40-something Midlander is somewhat of a north coast expert and although regarded primarily as a Superbike contender, don’t be surprised if the veteran racer steals in for the top step in tonight’s middleweight encounter aboard a well-prepared Smith’s Triumph
Rutter [Batham’s BMW] and Seeley [Mar-Train Kawasaki] should both feature strongly in tonight’s Pirtek Superstock clash, but keep an eye out for local man Stephen Thompson on the second of the Batham’s BMWs. The Crumlin plasterer would certainly be a popular podium finisher.
Scottish rider Keith Amor holds the Supersport lap record at the North West and returns to the Triangle for the first time in four years, riding an ex-Wilson Craig Racing Cameron Donald 600cc Honda.
The 42-year-old wobbled round to a top 15 lap time on Tuesday, but will undoubtedly improve during this morning’s session; although where we expect the former NW200 Superstock race winner to excel is tonight’s Supertwin race.
Amor was on provisional pole after Tuesday’s Supertwin session ahead of KMR/SGS Kawasaki team-mates Ryan Farquhar and impressive newcomer Conor Behan. But keep an eye out for dark horses Ivan Lintin, Dean Harrison and Lee Johnston in this class.
Belfast Telegraph Digital