Kyle White: Alastair Seeley and Jack Kennedy rivalry is good for the sport, but they are walking a fine line

Alastair Seeley celebrates his victory in the British Supersport Sprint race with runner-up Jack Kennedy (left) and Brad Jones.
Alastair Seeley celebrates his victory in the British Supersport Sprint race with runner-up Jack Kennedy (left) and Brad Jones.
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The physical clash between British Supersport Championship rivals Jack Kennedy and Alastair Seeley at Brands Hatch on Saturday has created quite a stir.

The incident has unsurprisingly divided opinion amongst supporters of the two title protagonists over who was at fault for the shocking altercation, which happened after the conclusion of a thrilling Sprint race at the Kent circuit.

Dubliner Kennedy, the reigning champion, was desperate to claw back some ground after a crash in race one at Donington Park left him with a broken scaphoid and no points on the board for the first time this season.

On that occasion, Seeley didn’t need a second invitation to seize his chance and he took full advantage of Kennedy’s misfortune, winning both races on the EHA Racing Yamaha to move to the top of the standings for the first time.

The wily 39-year-old had been forced to play second fiddle to Kennedy until that point, with the former World Supersport rider racing into the title lead after winning the first four races of the season on the Integro Yamaha.

Kennedy was out to make his mark at Brands on his return and he appeared on course for a maximum 25 points in Saturday’s opener after timing his move to perfection in the rain-hit race.

He led when it mattered on the final lap, but Seeley refused to go down without a fight and although Kennedy had his nose in front coming out of the final corner, the all-time record North West 200 winner pounced on the line to snatch victory by two hundredths of a second.

It was a bitter pill for Kennedy to swallow and he allowed his frustrations to spill over seconds after the race ended.

As they peeled into the first corner on their slowing down lap, television footage seemed to show Seeley squeezing Kennedy for space, who was on the inside line. Whether or not that was actually the case is open to interpretation.

Kennedy, though, clearly felt Seeley had unnecessarily cut his nose off even though the race was over.

In the heat of the moment, he kicked the Ulster rider and confronted Seeley as they drew alongside each other, lashing out with his arms and shoving his rival.

Some angry arm-waving ensued before the spat simmered down, but Kennedy was still clearly seething in his post-race interview on Eurosport afterwards.

Whether he felt there was deliberate provocation or not, Kennedy’s behaviour was out of line.

His actions were not befitting of a champion, even if Seeley’s roughshod tactics sometimes walk a very tight line.

Had the 31-year-old been penalised as a result, Kennedy could have few complaints, but he escaped punishment and bounced back to win the Feature race by two seconds from Seeley on Sunday.

To my mind, Kennedy has been the strongest rider in the class so far this season – backed up by his four wins on the spin at the opening two rounds – but his injury setback at Donington has thrown the door wide open.

Seeley’s advantage at the summit is still a healthy 30 points, but with eight rounds still to go and 50 points up for grabs at each, everything is still to play for.

If Kennedy can keep his cool and avoid being dragged into a dogfight by Seeley, he can still retain his title this year.

That will be easier said than done, but Kennedy’s team boss Robin Appleyard will see the bigger picture and has an important role to play in steering his rider along the correct path as the season unfolds.

Seeley will rightfully call upon all his years of experience to and title-winning knowhow to come out on top, and it may be enough to see him over the line.

Whatever happens from here on in, it’s safe to say quite a few more people will be tuning in to watch the British Supersport races on TV each weekend.

Sport thrives on rivalries and the competition between Kennedy and Seeley is turning into one of those classic conflicts, but maybe a quiet word is needed in the ear of each man to ensure things don’t get too out of hand.

Both riders are fierce competitors and close-quarters racing is the norm in the Supersport class, however there must always be respect on the race track.

No one needs reminding of the inherent dangers of motorcycle racing.