Alastair Seeley topped the opening Superbike and Superstock qualifying practice sessions and was second in the Supersport class, pipped by a tenth of a second by Cameron Donald tonight in preparation for Saturday’s North West 200 races.
Last year Seeley won the Superbike feature and the opening Supersport race but clearly has even bigger things on his mind this year, like winning five from five on Saturday.
Last year the Relentless by TAS Suzuki was racing full-time in BSB but this season he’s fronting the Suzuki’s teams effort in Supersport to promote the new GSX-R600. But that’s certainly not taken the edge of his performance on the 1000cc bikes.
Seeley was first out on the road in the sessions and on the superbike he topped the leaderboard by 0.9s from Michael Rutter on the Rapid Solictors/Pirelli Ducati. Next up was Rutter’s tea-mate Martin Jessop some 4.97s slower.
Conditions were far from ideal, the heavy gray skies giving way to drizzle as the session progressed. Also impressive on opening night were Gary Johnson on the East Coast Honda, Stephen Thompson riding a T&R BMW and Guy Martin on the second Relentless bike.
Stuart Easton was eighth on his MSS Kawasaki but struggling with stability problems with the ZX-10R. Michael Dunlop didn’t qualify – but that was because he was in an out of the pits adjusting his Street Sweep PBM Kawasaki all session. Ryan Farquhar never qualified either, struggling with clutch slip on his ZX-10R.
Seeley topped the Superstock class but by a mere 0.045s from Michael Dunlop on his Street Sweep Kawasaki. Michael Rutter was an impressive third on Michael Booth’s National Superstock Ducati ahead of William Dunlop’s Wilson Craig Honda, Ian Lougher riding his Black Horse Finance Kawasaki, and Adrian Archibald on a BMW.
Donald, though, topped the times on Wilson Craig Honda, underlining the speed of the PTR-build CBR600RR, but Seeley was happy that his Suzuki could match it along the fast straights of the NW200 triangle.
Michael Dunlop was again right in the mix in third place with his Yamaha R6, as were Gary Johnson and Bruce Anstey on the Padgetts Honda.
But it’s early days and practice continues on Thursday.
Alastair Seeley, Relentless by TAS Suzuki 4:31.148
Michael Rutter, Rapid Solicitors/Pirelli Ducati +0.948
Martin Jessop, Rapid Solicitors/Pirelli Ducati +4.973
Gary Johnson, East Coast Racing Honda +6.188
Stephen Thompson, T&R BMW +8.938
Guy Martin, Relentless by TAS Suzuki +9.131
Alastair Seeley, Relentless by TAS Suzuki 4:32.690
Michael Dunlop, Street Sweep Kawasaki +0.045
Michael Rutter, Rapid Solicitors/Pirelli Ducati +3.935
William Dunlop, Wilson Craig Honda +4.912
Ian Lougher, Black Horse Finance Kawasaki +5.005
Adrian Archibald, AMA Racing BMW +5.342
Cameron Donald, Wilson Craig Honda 4:42.532
Alastair Seeley, Relentless by TAS Suzuki +0.106
Michael Dunlop, Street Sweep Yamaha +4.155
Gary Johnson, East Coast Racing Honda +5.546
Bruce Anstey, Padgetts Honda +7.806
Guy Martin, Relentless by TAS Suzuki +10.292