Seeley revved up to take on NW200 with Kawasaki
It's all change for record 24-time North West 200 winner Alastair Seeley after the Carrickfergus rider announced that he will contest the 2020 fonaCAB & Nicholl Oils-sponsored north coast event with Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki between May 10-16.
Seeley signed the deal to ride for Pete Extance's NW200 and British Superbike Championship-winning team at the NEC Motorcycle Live Show in Birmingham yesterday.
The Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki team had a highly-successful North West 200 this year, with Glenn Irwin and James Hillier going one-two in the Superbike race and the latter winning the second Superstock race.
Seeley (40) said: "I'm really pleased to be joining forces with the Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki. I'll be jumping on machinery that won races at this year's event and I know Pete and his team do a good job.
"I'm also excited to be riding a Kawasaki Supersport machine again, as the last time I did I took the record number of wins at the Triangle Circuit.
"I'm looking forward to gelling with a new crew chief and team and getting plenty of track time on the bikes prior to the event."
Team owner Extance said: "I'm pleased to welcome Alastair to the Bournemouth Kawasaki squad for the 2020 North West 200 with Quattro Plant as our title sponsor.
"We want to continue our form at the North West as the team to beat and I see no better way to do that than by having Alastair on board.
"The record-breaking 24-time winner around the 8.9-mile circuit will be riding in all three classes for the team, Superbike, Superstock and Supersport."
Event director Mervyn Whyte MBE said: "To have Alastair back at the North West chasing a 25th race win is good news for the local fans and mounted on Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasakis will give him every chance at securing that landmark.
"It is fantastic for the fonaCAB & Nicholl Oils North West 200 to have the support of the 2018 British Superbike Championship-winning team and winners at the 2019 North West 200."
That means we already have the prospect of a Kawasaki v Honda battle for Superbike honours at the Triangle with east Antrim rivals Seeley and Glenn Irwin chasing top honours.
Add in the current fastest rider in the world Peter Hickman, Dean Harrison, Lee Johnston, Davy Todd, Richard Cooper, Derek Sheils and Paul Jordan and the grids are already beginning to fill up.
Seeley's record at the North West since his 2004 debut has been nothing short of phenomenal, including becoming the first Irish rider to win a Superbike race at the event for 13 years in 2010.
He has also scored trebles in 2012, 2015 and 2018 plus four wins in 2017 (over two days). He had a winning run that stretched to 11 consecutive years until that was broken back in May, after he crashed out while battling for the lead of the opening Supersport race. The weather and lack of track time on the PBM Ducati V4 Panigale led to a fifth place in the Superbike race won by Irwin - a result he will be looking to bounce back from come May.
He didn't contest the second Supersport or the Superstock races.
Meanwhile, following the second-lap pile-up during the Macau Grand Prix that saw six riders come to grief, Dubliner Sheils (Burrows Engineering/RK Suzuki) was taken to hospital as a precaution after a bang on the head, but released that evening.
Sheils said: "I took a bit of a knock to the head and was a bit battered and bruised, but it could have been worse and the main thing is that no one was seriously hurt."