Tyco Suzuki's Alastair Seeley is on provisional pole for the Superbike and Supersport races at the North West 200 after topping the timesheets in practice on Tuesday. The Ulsterman was victorious in the only race to beat the weather last year and is the clear favourite for victory in the three classes he's competing in this year.
The 32 year old had a three second advantage over John McGuinness in the Superbike class with William Dunlop taking third ahead of Guy Martin and Martin Jessopp. The times were much closer in Supersport with Martin just 0.949s adrift of his teammate, pushing McGuinness and Dunlop down to third and fourth in the process.
Ryan Farquhar was the pacesetter in the Superstock class for KMR Kawasaki, pipping Seeley by just under half a second after taking advantage of a slipstream from the Suzuki. Despite missing out on a clean sweep, Seeley was satisfied with the opening day and if the forecast rain arrives today, is looking good for three front row starts.
“Yeah I'm pretty happy with that first session. You can't get much better than P1 in both Superbike and Supersport and P2 in Superstock is also pretty good. The game plan wasn't to give Farquhar a tow to the provisional pole time in the 'stock class though, but its front row starts so far and we can't complain. The bikes have been faultless and it's just a matter or re-loading now for Thursday and give it another bash.”
Honda TT Legends rider McGuinness looks likely to provide the stiffest competition to Seeley, qualifying in the top three for in all three classes and the TT legend is feeling confident after his first day back in Coleraine.
“It's been a really good first day. We were lucky with the weather as there was a heavy hailstorm just before the sessions started but it dried out pretty quick and we were able to do most of qualifying without any rain. It started again just at the end of the last practice, but we got a good run in. I was a bit nervous heading out after missing the event last year, but as soon as I got out there all the years of riding here came flooding back and I really enjoyed it. We're up there in second and competitive in the Superbike class so it's been a good day”
Guy Martin will also fancy his chances of another road racing success after winning at the Cookstown 100 and the Lincolnshire rider is feeling positive, despite a technical problem preventing him from setting a time on the Superstock bike.
'Yeah that was steady away lad. The Supersport and Superbike are bang on as you can see by the times and we'll have no bother qualifying the Superstock bike tomorrow. All good. Good start. Yeah I'm happy. The team is working well, we've got ourselves dialled into the place pretty quickly and I'm looking forward to racing.”
In the Supertwins class, former TT race winner Adrian Archibald was the fastest man for McKinstry Racing, a second ahead of Michael Rutter, James Hillier and Ryan Farquhar. The new class will form part of a new Thursday double header this evening, with the Supertwins race joining the opening Superstock race in taking place tonight.