Alastair Seeley has confessed his disappointment that the 2011 North West 200 Superbike race was stopped on safety grounds last weekend, contending that such was his confidence in the wet conditions on the Causeway Coast, he would have been 'hard to beat'.
Seeley triumphed in the only race to be completed on Saturday, storming from pole position to the top step of the Supersport podium with a sublime wet-weather performance. The Ulsterman had similarly secured the plum spot on the starting grid in the Superstock class and began the Superbike outing from the third row, despite an electrical problem that had forced him to sit out the majority of Thursday's qualifying session.
Indeed, the former British Superstock Champion and current North West 200 lap record-holder made the grid only thanks to a tremendous show of allegiance from Relentless Suzuki British Superbike Championship team-mate Josh Brookes, who travelled to Kirkistown Race Circuit early on Friday morning to make sure Seeley's GSX-R1000 was ready to race, following a late-night session for his crew back in the team's Moneymore workshop.
The 31-year-old repaid that dedication by scything his way through into the lead by the end of the opening lap of the Superbike race, held in soaking wet conditions. Unfortunately for the competitors and fans, however, the action was red-flagged on lap two when another rider's engine expired, leaving a massive oil spill on the Coast Road from Church Corner to Juniper Hill chicane. Despite a lengthy delay and the best efforts of the organisers, the meeting was disappointingly abandoned on safety grounds.
“That's an International Road Racing victory to add to the British Supersport win at Brands Hatch for the new GSX-R600,” enthused Seeley of his commanding Supersport victory. “It was a great race to be involved in, and even more pleasing to beat what is basically a World Supersport-specification Honda. I knew I would be stronger into the chicanes despite Cameron [Donald] using traction control on his bike, as the brakes on the new GSX-R600 are one of its best features – and that gave me a lot of confidence in the wet.
“In the Superbike race, the plan was to pick them off and get into the lead so I wouldn't have to sit in anyone's spray. The speed of my GSX-R1000 was far superior to Ryan [Farquhar] and Michael [Dunlop]'s bikes and the way it was set-up, I was actually enjoying it spinning up down the big straights in the wet.
“I was ready to pull the pin and just ride my own race, so it was disappointing to see a red flag on lap two. I really felt like I was in control this week in all classes, and having felt so comfortable in the wet, I think we'd have been hard to beat. That five of [Phillip] McCallen's was definitely a big target.”
Team-mate Guy Martin, meanwhile, was almost a full minute behind Seeley at the conclusion of the five-lap Supersport encounter, scuppered by a misguided tyre selection in the tricky conditions that left him just eighth in the final reckoning.
“It was a tough day for everyone involved, and a week's worth of effort for just one race,” rued the 29-year-old. “Unfortunately, I made the wrong tyre choice. To come away with eighth place is nothing to shout about, but I am now going to the Isle of Man full of confidence – confidence in the blokes working on the bikes and confidence in the bikes themselves. It was a terrible day for the people who turned out to watch the racing, but a confidence-building day for the bigger picture – the bigger picture being the TT.”