New bike in pole position to battle big guns: Alastair Seeley
Only an Irishman could expect to win races and score no points, but that's exactly what Carrick's Alastair Seeley will be aiming to do in this season's British Supersport Championship as he pioneers a potential new class aboard the British-built Moto2-inspired GP Sport R.
Having just completed a two-day shakedown test aboard the 675cc Triumph-powered GP Sport R, the former double British champion was optimistic.
"Monday was all about just trying to get comfortable, but today we found that the bike has a lot of potential," said Seeley, who is expected to make a big announcement this evening at the NW200 Meet the Stars night in Coleraine.
Recounting his opening 48 hours with Tony Scott's Spirit creation, Seeley explained: "We are allowed to run on slick tyres this year as part of the deal on the Spirit machine, and we noticed that the bike is very easy on tyre wear. We got down to a pretty respectable lap time when we pushed on a bit, so I think we can be competitive straight away.
"I think we could have been on lap record pace had we been running the softer tyre.
"We could be winning races and not scoring any points, which we're not allowed to do as it's a development project. I'll be like a cat amongst the pigeons, and it will probably upset a few people if we start winning, but that's nothing new for me."
The Ulsterman, the NW200 record holder with 17 victories, is delighted to have been afforded the opportunity as at one point it looked like he was being left on the shelf.
"The goal for me is to showcase the bike and prove that Tony's dream of bringing some MotoGP technology to the British Championship is worthwhile. But I also want to showcase my own talent, as I want to get back to challenging for a Championship in 2018," he said.
Seeley's next outing on the GP Sport R Spirit machine will be during the official British Superbike test at Donington Park next Wednesday, and after that he has another three days' testing planned.
Explaining the project, team MD Scott added: "Because the bike is a prototype machine, benefiting from unique features such as the adjustable chassis and ultra lightweight that current British Supersport machines simply can't match, the organisers will not allow the team to score points in the 2017 Championship, but we aim to show what the bike is capable of by hitting the podium enough times to make our presence felt."
Seeley is undoubtedly one of the greatest exponents of the British Supersport class in the past decade having won the title on two occasions and losing out narrowly twice. He's the perfect fit for Scott's project, and his no-nonsense attitude will surely see him push hard for wins, leaving many in the paddock wishing they had secured his signature.
But the biggest news surrounding Seeley will come this evening in Coleraine - perhaps his choice of team for the 1000cc classes at this year's NW200.