Alastair Seeley was delighted after dominating the opening days' running at the 2011 Relentless International North West 200.
The Northern Irishman led the way in overcast and blustery conditions and topped the first qualifying session in the Superbike class which he won last year.
Seeley set a fastest time of 4:31.148, giving him almost a second in hand over Rapid Solicitors–Bathams Ducati's Michael Rutter, with his teammate Martin Jessopp four seconds further back in third.
But the Relentless Suzuki rider was unquestionably the man to beat after also topping the timesheets in the Superstock class and finishing second in the opening Supersport session.
“I kept my powder dry as I was towing Cameron Donald round in the Supersport session, but I’m happy to be at the top of the timesheets at this stage in the Superbike and Superstock classes” Seeley added. “Everything is working really well and the bikes are very stable, which is so important round here. Thursday is a longer session and we’ve a few more things to try with the bike and also with Pirelli, but so far I’m very happy.”
In the Superbike Class, Gary Johnson was fourth for East Coast Racing ahead of Stephen Thompson with Guy Martin completing the top six on the second Relentless Suzuki GSX-R1000.
The Lincolnshire rider was sixth in Supersport and ninth in Superstock and is confident he will be there or thereabouts when the racing gets underway.
“The Superbike is mega; we’re right there with that one and the Supersport bike is yeah… that’s spot on too. We had a little problem last night but nothing to worry about. On the Superstock bike we’ve a little bit of work to do and struggled a little last night with gearing but all-day practice tomorrow and we should be good. I’m looking forward to a good run in the dry and we’ll be right there hopefully for Saturday.”
Phillip Neill, Team Manager of Relentless Suzuki by TAS was also satisfied by the start his outfit had made to the event, and is just hoping rain doesn't spoil their plans.
“It’s been a good start for us. This is obviously a tough week in general as many different aspects can determine how you qualify. We are in quite a unique scenario with two riders on three different bikes and bike set-up can be turned on its head in five minutes with a change in the weather. Our dry set-up is very good after the opening session and apart from a few teething troubles we are ready for Saturday, although as I say, a drop of rain could offer up a whole new challenge for everyone.”
North West 200 – Superbike – First Qualifying
1. Alastair SEELEY – Relentless Suzuki by TAS Racing – 4:31.148
2. Michael RUTTER – Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati – 4:32.096 (+0.948)
3. Martin JESSOPP – Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati – 4:36.121 (+4.973)
4. Gary JOHNSON – East Coast Racing – 4:37.336 (+6.188)
5. Stephen THOMPSON – T & R Motorsport – 4:40.086 (+8.938)
6. Guy MARTIN – Relentless Suzuki by TAS Racing – 4:40.279 (+9.131)
7. William DUNLOP – Wilson Craig Racing – 4:40.424 (+9.276)
8. Stuart EASTON – MSS Colchester Kawasaki 4:41.754 (+10.606)
9. Adrian ARCHIBALD – AMA Racing – 4:42.142 (+10.994)
10. Bruce ANSTEY – padgetts-motorcycles.co.uk – 4:43.498 (+12.350)