12 May 2014
NW200: Seeley spearheads Ulster charge
Mar-Train Racing's Alastair Seeley will fancy his chances of adding to his tally of ten victories at the 2014 North West 200
Alastair Seeley is feeling confident and relaxed as the Mar-Train Racing star prepares for this week's Vauxhall International North West 200.
The British Supersport contender has a superb record at the famous road race, winning ten times since claiming his first success in the Superstock class in 2008.
Seeley is a hot favourite to add to his impressive tally, but faces stern opposition in the form of British Superbike riders Josh Brookes (Milwaukee Yamaha), Stuart Easton (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) and Michael Rutter (Bathams BMW), plus top road racers William Dunlop and Guy Martin on the Tyco Suzuki machines, Honda frontrunner John McGuinness, Ian Hutchinson (Milwaukee Yamaha) and Kiwi Bruce Anstey on the Valvoline Padgett's Hondas.
Michael Dunlop will also ride his factory-supported BMW Motorrad S1000RR for the first time at the North West, plus a Honda Supersport machine, BMW Superstock and Kawasaki ER6 in the Supertwin class.
Seeley claimed a further two victories last year in the Supersport and Superstock classes to underline his status as a circuit specialist as he edges closer to Joey Dunlop and Rutter on the all time winners' list, with both riders having claimed 13 victories each.
Robert Dunlop, though, is still the most successful rider ever at the event with 15 wins.
Seeley will ride his British championship Yamaha R6 and has opted for Kawasaki power for the Superbike and Superstock races.
“I have had a win at the North West every year since 2008 and I would like to keep that going,” said the 34-year-old Ulsterman.
“We will have a new engine and gearbox in the R6 which have been specially built for the long straights on the North West course.
“The engine will give us more horsepower than the British championship bike and the gearbox has a lower first gear for York hairpin and then wider ratios for the long fast sections.
“I won the Thursday Superstock race last year on a Kawasaki and if we were going for a 'stocker version this year I thought it made sense to stick with the ZX10 for the Superbike class as well,” he added.
“At the North West it's all about having a fast motor and good brakes. I don't think that you need a lot of fancy gizmos like special swing-arms or electronics for road races but the proof of the pudding will be in the Superbike races next Saturday.”
Seeley is regarded as the man to beat by the majority of his main rivals but the two-time British champion is unfazed by the weight of expectation.
“I haven't thought about having a target on my back to be honest,” he said. “I'll be taking the same approach as always. I've found that the more that I can relax and enjoy the week the better things go.
“If I get wound up and try too hard I find that things don't happen as well for me.”
Practice for the first big international road racing showdown of the year gets under way on Tuesday, with final qualifying and the first three races for Supersport, Supertwin and Superstock machines taking place on Thursday.
The final five races, incorporating both Superbike races, round off the legendary race on Saturday.
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