North West 200 record-breaker Alastair Seeley raced to a red-hot treble as he made his return at the first Ulster Superbike meeting of the year at Kirkistown in Co Down on Saturday.
The short circuit meeting was the first motorcycle race held in Northern Ireland in 2021 following a spate of cancellations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Carrick man Seeley, who has won an incredible 24 races at the North West, is concentrating on the short circuit scene in Northern Ireland this season after he was unable to secure a suitable ride in the British Championship.
And Seeley lived up to his billing as the pre-race favourite in the warm summer sunshine, with the 41-year-old winning both Superbike races at the Belfast and District Club’s event following an earlier success in the Supersport class.
“It’s nice to have the chance to race in front of the fans and try and put on a good show,” Seeley said.
“Apart from the Sunflower, the North West 200 and some one-off races in 2015 and 2017, I haven’t done a full season at home since 2009.
“I want to thank Graeme Hanna, Simon Barron and Geoffrey Barron for the opportunity.”
Riding for the IFS Global Logistics Yamaha team, Seeley smashed the lap record in the first Superbike race as he beat Wicklow’s Derek Sheils (Roadhouse Macau BMW) by four tenths of a second, with Ali Kirk from Dromara in third place on the AMK/McCurry Motorsport BMW.
The race was declared a result after six laps following a non-serious red flag incident, with Seeley claiming a new lap record in 54.779s for the 1.5-mile course.
Michael Dunlop, who was competing on the SYNETIQ BMW M1000RR machine, pulled out of the race after the opening lap. Dunlop also failed to finish the second Superbike race.
Seeley lifted the Superbike benchmark higher in race two, gradually pulling a gap over Sheils and establishing a new outright lap record in 54.701s (99.428mph).
The former British Superstock 1000 and Supersport champion took the flag with 1.745s in hand over Sheils, who was a long way clear of Kirk in third.
Earlier in the afternoon, Seeley opened his account with a comfortable win in the first Supersport race by 1.8s from Tobermore’s Adam McLean on the McAdoo Kawasaki, with Dunlop third on his Yamaha.
Dunlop clinched a victory in race two after race leader Seeley was a retirement, with Jason Lynn sealing the runner-up spot, almost six seconds behind Dunlop. Derek McGee from Co Westmeath was third.
Former Grand Prix winner Jeremy McWilliams was a surprise entry in the Supertwin class as he won both races on the IFS Fonacab Paton.
Promising young British Championship rider Cameron Dawson was a runaway winner in the Supersport 300 races on his Kawasaki.
Meanwhile, it’s the turn of the Mid Antrim Club next weekend, with the two-day Neil and Donny Robinson Memorial short circuit meeting at Bishopscourt near Downpatrick, where Seeley will once again line up as the favourite for more success.