Alastair Seeley joins Mar-Train Racing
Wee Wizard Alastair Seeley has joined British Supersport champions Mar-Train Racing on a day of major moves on the local motorcycle racing scene with one of his former teams, TAS, landing top US rider John Hopkins.
Carrick ace Seeley will now spearhead Temple-based Mar-Train's British championship campaign in 2014 on Yamaha machinery, taking over from title winner Stuart Easton who moves to British Superbikes with the Paul Bird team.
Moving from Gearlink Kawasaki, Seeley (34) will also ride a full stable of Mar-Train machines at next year's Vauxhall North West 200 -- his only road race of the season -- alongside new kid on the block Dean Harrison , as he looks to give his new team debut victory at the event.
"It was a bit of a no brainer to join Mar-Train Racing for 2014," Seeley explained.
"I watched Stuart Easton on the bike all year. I knew it was a fast competitive package and for me it's the bike to be on. Another big factor for me was working with a local team again, as this has brought me success in the past -- so I'll be doing my best to retain the British Supersport crown for them."
One defining factor in the Mar-Train deal was May's International North West 200. Seeley has taken over the mantle of 'Mr North West' in recent years, accumulating 10 wins around the Triangle circuit, and now has his sights firmly set on Robert Dunlop's all conquering record of 15 victories.
"I don't feel a lot of pressure going to the North West as I know the place so well now and it's a bit of a break from the day job in British championship.
"Respectfully, Robert was a great rider, both on the circuits and on the roads, so if I can even match what he's achieved around the North West, I'll feel pretty proud. But the main goal for next season is to get Mar-Train Racing on the top step -- everything after that is a bonus."
It's been quite a fortnight for team owner Tim Martin, whose team clinched the British Supersport title in just their second season of British championship competition with Stuart Easton.
And now to have Seeley secured for 2014, is an early Christmas present as he explained: "We spoke to Alastair about riding for us this season, but for whatever reason that didn't work out. In hindsight it maybe wasn't a bad thing as it gave us another year to establish ourselves in the class, and he now comes to a British championship winning team."
Looking ahead to the North West 200, Martin added: "I've always wanted to win there since we started racing, and having Alastair on board certainly puts us in the frame. There are no guarantees in this game, but our aim is to go there and put a good show on -- so we have to put Alastair on bikes that are capable of winning.
"We know the R6 Yamaha is the bike for the job in the Supersport class, but we will possibly look at alternative options in the other classes. It's all about giving Alastair a team and package that offers him the best opportunity of success -- and that's what I aim to do. It's something the whole team are pretty excited about."
Those options could mean Kawasaki's ZX10R machinery on which Seeley excels.
"Tim assures me we will run what we need to, to be competitive in both classes," Seeley added.
"Tim doesn't go racing to finish second and once we decide on which bikes to use, it's all about getting plenty of mileage in during pre-season; especially on the Superbike as they are the most difficult to set up," Seeley said.