North West 200: Alastair Seeley takes up familiar position at summit
Twelve-time North West 200 Supersport winner Alastair Seeley took up his familiar position at the summit of the time sheets on the EHA Racing Yamaha on Tuesday.
Seeley left it late with a lap of 4m 37.073s on his R6, which put him 0.182s ahead of Lee Johnston on the Ashcourt Racing Yamaha.
English rider James Hillier was third fastest (Quattro Plant Kawasaki) followed by Michael Dunlop on his MD Racing Honda, who was 1.6 seconds down on Seeley.
The Carrickfergus man did the double on the EHA Yamaha last year and half of his record haul of 24 North West 200 victories have come in the Supersport class, underpinning his rapport with the middleweight machines.
Seeley said: “Supersport seems to be the class that suits me the best because of my size and stature. They have a lot less horsepower and they’re a bit more manageable, so it was nice last year for EHA Racing to come here and get the double.
“It will probably be a lot harder his year but we’ll try our best.
“Last year we had a hat-trick but we didn’t get the big bike race and that’s the one I’d like to get.”
Seeley was also at the sharp end on the PBM Be Wiser Ducati V4-R, setting the third fastest time in the Superbike session on the Italian machine.
He only had his first full test on the bike at Kirkistown on Sunday and the 39-year-old will be confident of making another step forward in final qualifying on Thursday.
Superbike frontrunner Dean Harrison was fifth quickest in the Supersport session ahead of Peter Hickman on the Trooper Beer Triumph.
Magherafelt’s Paul Jordan was seventh fastest on the Logan Racing Yamaha ahead of Davey Todd (Milenco by Padgett’s Honda).
In the Supertwin class, Yorkshire’s Jamie Coward was the surprise package as he led the way on the KTS Kawasaki by only 0.2s from Michael Rutter (Bathams/KMR Kawasaki).
Christian Elkin was third, 1.1s adrift, while Glenn Irwin was fourth after only completing four laps on his KTS Kawasaki.
KMR Kawasaki riders Jeremy McWilliams and Derek McGee only managed three laps before they were forced out with bike problems.
However, McWilliams still managed the fifth fastest time with McGee in seventh behind Italian rider Stefano Bonetti.
McWilliams said: “We lost a bracket mounting because it’s a little bit bumpy out there and we just didn’t get it repaired in time.
“The brackets have been strengthened over the years especially for the TT because it’s continually taking a battering, but unfortunately we’ve just lost a bracket and we have to take the dashboard off and stuff to fix it.
“We had a little bit of a water leak in cylinder number one and we need to investigate that as well,” he added.
“But the bikes are going good and I felt strong on those few laps and I could have gone quicker.”