By Kyle White

The Tyco Suzuki team has fired a warning to event specialist Alastair Seeley's key rivals ahead of Tuesday's official launch of the 2012 Relentless International North West 200 in Belfast.

Seeley has assumed former Triangle king Steve Plater's mantle as the man to beat at the famous road race on the north coast. In 20120 he became the first Ulster rider to triumph in the blue riband Superbike class since road racing great Phillip McCallen scaled the top step 13 years previously.

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Last May, Seeley was denied the opportunity of a repeat Superbike success when the event was wiped out due to a series of setbacks including a bomb scare, poor weather and an oil spill.

But the reigning British Supersport champion was leading the first premier race from Michael Dunlop in the wet before the organisers called a halt to the action and he had earlier defeated Aussie Cameron Donald in the tricky conditions to win the Supersport race.

Seeley has been promoted to the British Superbike Championship with the factory-supported Tyco Suzuki team for 2012 and team boss Philip Neill says his man will take some stopping at the NW200 on Saturday, May 19.

"Alastair is now the race favourite at the North West 200 and to have a combination like ours for BSB and the North West is really unique given that we are both from the same part of the world and have won together and been successful together.

"We're glad to have signed Alastair again and although his main job is the British Superbike Championship, hopefully the North West will be the icing on the cake," said Neill.

"The North West 200 is a priority for us - we still enjoy the event and it was one of the considerations when Alastair was looking at other teams and we were looking at other riders (prior to completing a deal for 2012).

"As we've seen in the British championship Alastair excels in the wet and he doesn't seem to go to the North West thinking 'I'm a circuit rider and this is a road race', it's just another race track for Alastair and I'm sure he treats it with a bit more respect but it seems to suit him," added Neill.

"You can see the parts of the track where he excels like the Coast Road and the final chicane, which are more short-circuit orientated and it's a good combination."

And although Neill is convinced Seeley is now the North West's top rider, he moved quickly to play down the chances of a sensational clean sweep on race day.

"People talk about winning five races in a day at the North West but it takes an enormous amount of luck to do that, especially with the competition that we have nowadays.

"It'll be every bit as tough again this year with the Ansteys, Donalds and Rutters out there and even some of the new guys coming through like Simon Andrews and Martin Jessopp, who has proved himself as a contender around there.

"It's not going to be easy and I just hope that the Northern Ireland public doesn't put too much pressure or expectation on Alastair."