Alastair Seeley is setting his sights high as he prepares for the new British Supersport season which begins at Brands Hatch next weekend. The Northern Irishman performed strongly in his debut British Superbike campaign with the Relentless TAS Suzuki team last year and has moved with the local outfit to the 600cc class.
And speaking to TCF, Seeley admitted he rejected the chance to stay in British Superbikes to stay with the team he tasted victory with last year.
“I did speak to a couple of teams in British Superbikes and I also spoke to another team in British Supersport. The thing that probably attracted me was the fact that I did the North West 200 and I know Relentless TAS Suzuki will give me a great package, a great stable of bikes. They're also a factory backed team now so the 600cc bike will probably be the best 600 out there. I've only ridden it a few times and it does tick all the right boxes”.
A former Irish Supersport, Irish Superbike and National Superstock 1000 champion, Seeley is vastly experienced and is expected to be among the front-runners in 2011. But the 31 year old is expecting a tough battle with riders old and new competing this year.
“Sam Lowes and James Westmoreland have left but you have a lot who have come back in. Steve Plater (Padgetts Honda) is back, you have Billy McConnell who's staying, Paul Young (both Oxford TAG Triumph) plus young lads like Luke Mossey and Dan Cooper (Smiths (Gloucester) Racing). There's also Jack Kennedy (Colin Appleyard/Macadam Racing) from Ireland, I've raced against him a few times at home here so I know he's fast.
Among the new rules for the 2011 season is the introduction of a new control MoTec ECU which will remove traction control, launch control and anti-wheelie functions. While Seeley accepts it will take time to adjust, he is sure it will improve the racing.
“It makes it a level playing field where we don't have any of these gizmos and gadgets so that will make the racing more exciting and more competitive. There are a lot of riders who've rode Supersport for a number of years and know the characteristics of the Supersport bike so it might take me a while to get into that and following them and learning off them will bring me up to speed far quicker.”
Another change from last season sees the switch from one race per weekend to two. A new sprint race will take place on qualifying day which will set the grid for the longer feature race the next day. All things considered though, Seeley is targeting a title challenge right from the start.
“I'd like to go and try to lift that championship. It's not gonna be easy but I've got a great team and great structure around me, the right people. It's just a case of trying to get a good start to the season and get a good head start, get a lot of points gathered up and see how the season materialises. You need a lot of luck on your side too.”
Aside from his Supersport campaign, Seeley is also going to return to Northern Ireland to compete in the North West 200 where he has enjoyed success in the past.
“Yeah that as always part of the plan to join TAS as part of the road racing team. I'm sort of their trump card where they can send me out and I really enjoy it. I only really do two local events at home, the NW 200 being one and also the last round of the Irish Short Circuit Championship, the Sunflower Trophy, so it's always good to come home to the North West and meet new fans and chat with them and hopefully put on a good display.”
Seeley will begin his 2011 campaign with the opening round of the Fuchs-Silkolene British Supersport Championship which takes place on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit over the Easter weekend (22nd-25th April).