NW200: Wet wizard Alastair Seeley says 'experience counted' after terrific Thursday double

Alastair Seeley was the toast of the north coast once again on Thursday as the Carrickfergus man provided a ray of sunshine for his fans on a cold and wet night at the North West 200.

By Kyle White
Friday, 13th May 2022, 10:51 am

The Carrickfergus man’s place in the history books has long been assured, with Seeley winning more races around the 8.9-mile ‘Triangle’ course than any other rider.

However, he wrote a fresh chapter in his remarkable NW200 story with a Supersport and Superstock double in the rain, rewarding his Antrim-based IFS Racing team for their faith in him after they backed him with a full stable of Yamaha machinery for Northern Ireland’s premier road race.

Seeley dug deep and drew on his vast well of knowledge to win the Supersport race from young gun Davey Todd and the evergreen Jeremy McWilliams, who delivered a dream podium finish for Dungannon man John Burrows’ team after the 58-year-old stood in for injured Cork rider Mike Browne.

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Alastair Seeley increased his record haul of North West 200 wins to 26 with a double in the wet on Thursday.

With a milestone 25th triumph secured, Seeley wrapped up his double with a commanding performance in the Superstock race, coasting home to win by almost 13 seconds from the consistent Todd.

The 42-year-old failed to win a race at the North West in 2019 for the first year since his maiden victory on the JMF Yamaha in the Superstock class back in 2008, but Seeley emphatically set the record straight at the first opportunity as the famous old race returned for the first time in three years.

“The monkey’s off my back,” said 26-time winner Seeley.

“Conditions were cold, wet and freezing and couldn’t have been any worse.

“But fair play to the IFS boys because they gave me a great bike and I just used my old head and my experience to bring it home.”

Seeley battled it out with Davey Todd (Milenco by Padgett’s Honda) throughout the four-lap Supersport encounter, swapping places at the front before a strong move on the brakes at Juniper Hill chicane at the end of lap three proved to be the decisive overtake.

He finally made a break for it on the last lap after Jeremy McWilliams made a pass on Todd at York Corner, causing both riders to go slightly wide.

Englishman Todd forced his way back into second place but he was unable to close the deficit to Seeley, who notched up his 13th win in the class on the IFS Yamaha R6.

A frustrated Todd, who was a Supersport winner in the rain in 2019, finished 1.9s behind Seeley, with 58-year-old McWilliams delivering a dream podium for Dungannon team Burrows Engineering/RK Racing.

It was an exceptional result for Seeley after the 42-year-old was left empty-handed at the last running of the event.

“I always say age is only a number and hopefully there’s more to come,” Seeley said.

“My experience probably showed out there in those conditions.”

Rising star Todd felt he could have pushed for the win on the last lap had it not been for his tussle with McWilliams.

“Jeremy sat me up at York and we both went wide,” he said.

“It cost me some time and you can’t let a rider like Alastair get away because once that happens, he’s gone.

“I’m pleased to be on the podium but I felt capable of something more.”

McWilliams was a late addition to John Burrows’ team as a replacement for the injury-hit Mike Browne and despite his lack of time on the Yamaha R6, he showed that he remains a force to be reckoned with.

“That feels like a win,” McWilliams said.

“It’s just fantastic to be here on the podium and a big thanks to John Burrows for the chance to ride his bike.

“I’m over the moon with that and I really enjoyed it out there. Hopefully there’s more to come.”

Tobermore man Adam McLean finished fourth on the McAdoo Kawasaki after losing his chance of a rostrum when he made a mistake at the start/finish chicane at the end of lap three, allowing McWilliams and Todd to edge away.

Todd’s Milenco Honda team-mate Conor Cummins was fifth and the top six was completed by Dean Harrison on the DAO Racing Kawasaki.

Michael Dunlop was a retirement after the first lap on his MD Racing Yamaha, while Lee Johnston decided against competing in Thursday’s races due to the conditions.

The Supersport race was red-flagged on the second lap and restarted after a rider slid off at Magherabuoy chicane, escaping unhurt.

Seeley dominated the six-lap Superstock race, hitting the front and gradually pulling away from Todd.

He won by almost 13 seconds at the end from the Milenco Honda rider, with Richard Cooper filling the final place on the podium on the Hawk Racing Suzuki.

A number of top riders decided against riding in the conditions, including pole man Glenn Irwin and his Honda team-mate John McGuinness, Michael Dunlop, Lee Johnston, Adam McLean, Michael Sweeney and Paul Jordan.

Seeley, now a 26-time NW200 winner, said: “I had a few slides at the beginning at Black Hill and places and then I just rode steady where I knew it was slippery, but it was all in hand.

“I just watched my board from there and I could see the gap going up, and I just brought it home. There was no grip at all out there and I was short-shifting to try and find some, but it wasn’t there.

“The IFS Yamaha is working good and now we have a decision to make about the Superbike for Saturday, but we’ll flip a coin.”

Conor Cummins (Milenco by Padgett’s Honda) and 14-time NW200 winner Michael Rutter (Bathams BMW) were the top five, with Marty Lennon from Banbridge having a fine ride to sixth on his Yamaha R1 ahead of Lisburn’s Carl Phillips (SBR Suzuki).

The Supertwin race was cancelled due to fading light and deteriorating conditions.