Shrewd Seeley puts himself back in title mix
As the British Supersport championship reached the halfway point at Thruxton in Hampshire over the weekend, Alastair Seeley won a spectacular opening sprint race on Saturday, but could only finish fifth in yesterday’s equally electrifying feature race.
He still remains in contention for the championship in third place, just four points behind new series leader Graeme Gowland.
Race one was an epic 12-lap encounter between the Triumphs of Luke Jones, Gowland, Billy McConnell, the Mar Train Yamaha of Seeley and the Gearlink Kawasaki of Glenn Irwin.
Seeley timed his move to perfection on the final lap to snatch the lead and hold on through the final chicane to take his third successive victory by half a second from Jones, Gowland and McConnell with Irwin fifth.
McConnell had taken the chequered flag second, but received a two-place penalty for overtaking in a yellow flag zone at the final chicane.
Before yesterday’s 18-lap feature race, McConnell joked: “We will have to get the little guy on the Yamaha” — and his prediction came true, as after another pulsating battle it was the four Triumphs of Gowland, Luke Mossey, McConnell and Jones in front of Seeley when the chequered flag dropped at the end of 18 dramatic laps with two-tenths of a second splitting the quintet.
The lead changed constantly throughout with Gowland this time in the right place on the last lap to slipstream from fourth to first on the high-speed run towards the chicane to snatch the race win with the Carrickfergus rider unable to make a telling move, having to settle for fifth.
Seeley commented: “They were two hard races and we got it right in race one, being able to pick them off using my North West slip streaming experience. Race two was difficult and I was never in the right place in the closing stages, however we are right back in the championship chase.”
Meanwhile, Newtownards-based Australian Josh Brookes had the perfect weekend in British Superbikes, taking his Milwaukee Yamaha to his first double victory of the season by beating championship leader Shayne Byrne into second in both races with former champion Ryuichi Kiyonari having to settle for two third position finishes.
It was another difficult day for Tyco Suzuki — John Hopkins finished the day with two eighth place finishes, Josh Waters was 17th and 12th while in the Supersport race, the team’s rider Taylor Mackenzie crashed out.
It was also a poor day for Newtownabbey rider Andy Reid in the Superstock 600 race, the championship leader crashing out along with Levi Day on the second lap following an incident in which young Carrickfergus rider Andrew Irwin was black flagged for alleged ‘reckless riding causing a collision’ that resulted in the crash, both emerging unscathed.
Reid now trails yesterday’s race winner Kyle Ryde by one point in the championship chase.