Seeley chasing a hatrick at Vauxhall International North West 200

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 23/4/2015: North West 200 hero Alastair Seeley has some fun during a visit to the Winterfell Game of Thrones at Castle Ward, Co Down.'Part of the blockbuster series was filmed at Castle Ward and Seeley's visit was filmed by BBC NI who will broadcast his races at the Vauxhall International North West 200 during their coverage in 2015.'PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 23/4/2015: North West 200 hero Alastair Seeley has some fun during a visit to the Winterfell Game of Thrones at Castle Ward, Co Down.'Part of the blockbuster series was filmed at Castle Ward and Seeley's visit was filmed by BBC NI who will broadcast his races at the Vauxhall International North West 200 during their coverage in 2015.'PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

Tyco BMW star Alastair Seeley has his sights set on a hat trick of wins at this year’s Vauxhall International North West 200. The 12 times North West winner is just three victories shy of Robert Dunlop’s record tally of 15 following his double last season and the Carrickfergus man believes he can close the gap on May12-16.

“I am not a kick in the arse off it now and if I had a good week maybe I could match it.” Seeley says.

“It would be great to equal the record at least. If it happens, it happens but it is getting tougher every year.

The 35 year old is on a high going into his only road race outing of the year. He is currently sitting in fourth place in the British Superstock championship after rejoining Philip and Hector Neill’s TAS squad to race the squad’s Tyco backed BMWs in 2015.

“I am back with a team that I am comfortable with and things are going pretty good in the British series.” he says.

“We have a good test schedule in place. We were out at Kirkistown for two days last week and I will ride my new superbike soon so everything is going to plan.”

With the Tyco BMW team limited to running 1000cc machines in 2015, Seeley remains tight lipped about the machinery he will race in the Supersport classes at Portrush. It seems likely he will campaign a Tyco liveried 600cc Suzuki, giving the ‘Wee Wizard’ five chances to chase the three wins that would see him close the gap to Dunlop’s record tally.

Whatever machinery he is on, Seeley will start as favourite at Portrush in May, having won at every North West since he took his first victory in 2008.

“I suppose I have started as favourite for the last few years which means I usually have a target on my back.” he smiles.

“I try to not let that affect me because it can put pressure on you if you think like that and I ride better if I am relaxed.”

The Carrick man feels the competition is as tough as its ever been on the famous 8.9 mile Triangle since he made his debut in 2004.

“Apart from the roads boys there are more and more BSB riders coming to the North West every year.” he reflects.

“Once they get their heads around the idea that the course is big long straights into tight chicanes they realise that it is the Coast Road section that takes the most learning.”

The Carrick racer had mixed fortunes at last year’s event, winning the Supersport and Superstock races on Thursday evening before crashing out of Saturday’s opening 600cc encounter.

On Thursday evening Seeley was virtually last on his Mar-Train Yamaha R6 after avoiding Lee Johnston’s first lap crash at York.

“That 600cc win on Thursday evening was one of my best North West performances.” Seeley says.

“I just put my head down and set about trying to catch the good guys again. Once I had them in my sights I used them as a target and then it became a battle between Guy Martin and me on the last lap.”

On Saturday he wasn’t so lucky after tangling with Johnston’s Pirtek Honda once again at Metropole on the final lap of the day’s opening 600cc race.

“The road was greasy at that part of the track and Lee and I had different tyre compounds.” he explains.

“I was set up for the dry, it was the last lap and we both wanted to win. His elbow caught my front brake as we weaved about and we both crashed. We shook hands afterwards, he apologised for Thursday and I said sorry for that one!”

The crash left both men feeling secondhand and Seeley was forced to settle for a podium finish in the feature race behind Michael Dunlop and Josh Brookes. It is an experience he is determined not to repeat in the 2015 big bike races.

“I need to get a good set up on my big bike this year as they can be a bit of a handful when the tyres start to go off.” Seeley says.

“With Tyco having two riders in BSB I will get all the information and loads of help from them when I jump on the superbike. A good qualifying is not so important at the North West because you can come from the middle of the pack with the slipstreaming effect but you still need to be in the right place coming on to the Coast road if you are going to win!”