The most successful rider at the Vauxhall International North West 200, Alastair Seeley, goes into this evening and Saturday’s races on 21 victories.
Having lost none of his enthusiasm, he attempts to increase that number despite an ever-eager new crop of road racers hungry for success biting at his heels.
The 38-year-old made his Triangle debut back in 2004 but in the ensuing years he has accumulated 32 podium finishes, including those 21 race wins, something he never contemplated.
“At the start the North West was just something to try. Three years’ apprenticeship and the results started to come, beating John McGuinness for fourth one year being a highlight.
“Then in 2007 I won the Superstock race and since then I have won at least one race every year, a record I would like to keep going this weekend.”
But being the main man in this part of the world also makes him a marked one.
“Yes, I feel as if I have a target on my back, and it seems all the top guys are coming here in good form and fit, with the exception of Hutchy (Ian Hutchinson), but I aim to do a good job,” he said.
“I know what it takes to stay at the front here. I’m excited about the machines I’m riding.
“Edward and Gail Allingham didn’t have much luck with their last venture here when Ben Wilson got injured, but they have pulled out all the stops for me this year and I have two EHA Supersport Yamaha’s at my disposal. I know the Tyco BMW’s from last year and we have a few upgrades, especially on the Superbike.”
The Tyco BMW camp has three potential winners in their colours this year in Seeley, Dan Kneen and Michael Dunlop, but Alastair is not fazed by his team-mates.
“We all do our own thing with our own crews, but information is shared. The only difference is Michael is riding with Dunlop rubber and we are using Metzeler.”
Commonwealth boxer Kenny Beattie has taken Seeley under his wing as his personal trainer, and he feels he has benefited from his guidance.
“I go to KB Fitness on the Shore Road and I’m down to what my Supersport weight was a few years ago,” Seeley explained.
“I have also competed in a few motocross meetings. When I took my son Lewis to youth meetings I was standing about between his races, so I decided to fire up the motocross bike I have and ride in the adult races; nothing too serious and I’m not into the big jumps.
“I haven’t done any lately as they were too close to the North West and didn’t want to do anything silly.”
On last year’s epic battle with Glenn Irwin and Hutchy, which fellow Carrickfergus man Irwin won, Seeley reckons we are in for more of the same come Saturday.
“I think there may be more involved at the front this year. Glenn has gelled with the Ducati and is a confident rider, but there was a lot went on in that race last year,” he added.
“I had a bit of a moment that cost me a bit of time, but no excuses, Glenn won fair and square.
“I think we will have maybe five riders at the front in Superbike and it is just a case of being in the right place at the right time to win.
“This place is unique, you don’t have to qualify well, but need to get a good slip stream and think of new places to pass as I’ve shown these guys all the main ones!”
Practice has been difficult for a number of riders, Seeley included.
“Nothing flowed. It had started to drizzle a lap and a half into Supersport, in Superbike I had a gear linkage problem and by the time I got it sorted and onto a fast lap the session got red flagged,” he said.
“In the final Superstock only me and another guy lined up, so I just rode round lap after lap to get the brain registered to the speed again leaving us a bit to do in the morning, but I’m confident we can have a good North West.”