He’s been winning British championships and International Road Races on a regular basis since 2008, and today, despite having to extinguish 40 candles on his birthday cake, proud Ulsterman Alastair Seeley says he has no intention of slowing down.
With two titles on his CV - Superstock in 2009 and Supersport in 2011 - a glut of top-three championship finishes and the proud owner of the most wins, ever, at the North West 200, which currently stands at 24, the diminutive Northern Ireland native is still in love with the sport that has given him so much recognition.
In 2010, his first full season on a Superbike, he made the inaugural year of the British Superbike Showdown, complete with a race win and two additional podium finishes. Since 2008, the Wee Wizard has stood on over 90 British championship podiums with a 50 per vent win rate. That is quite some record by anyone’s standards.
This weekend he will celebrate his milestone birthday at Donington Park with his EHA Racing team, despite being out of British Supersport action through injury. But he did give us 20 minutes of his time to discuss his rollercoaster 2019 season, and what the future may hold.
So Alastair, 2019 didn’t quite produce the British Supersport title winning assault that you may have predicted, but it hasn’t been all bad has it?
As a racer everyone likes wins so the double at Donington was nice and I have had 14 podiums this year. To be honest I was looking to bounce back at the final four rounds this season, and get back to winning ways at circuits I enjoy, but obviously that was cut short with the unfortunate injury to my right wrist. But I will be back at Brands. For this weekend I will be helping my team-mate David Allingham.
What has been the defining factor this season in coming up short?
We were on the podium in the majority of races and as you get a bit older you respect how tough it is, to even post British Championship podiums. So I try to enjoy them as much as I can and take it all in. Jack has ridden out of his skin this year, and credit to him. He’s under the lap record pretty much everywhere he goes. From our side, the machinery performance could have been better this season, but that’s the way it goes.
So what has been the difference?
Last year when I came into the EHA Racing team, we were running different specification suspension and engine characteristics. That felt a lot stronger overall, and I was really happy with the package. I did think we would start this season where we finished off, but things change. A new crew came in and we used different parts.
They are a good bunch of guys, but if I’m honest, I haven’t quite clicked with them the same way I did with Adrian Gorst last year. That’s when we did all our winning both on the circuits and at the North West 200.
I’ve been around this game for a long enough time to understand, especially in Supersport, how I like a bike set up and I had my own ideas. At times they weren’t able to transfer that to the set-up for me, but I always give one hundred percent and I’ve done exactly that all year. I never held anything back on track. I don’t want to make excuses. Jack is riding at the top of his game. My golden era was 2009, 2010 and eleven. The time when I was winning championships, but I do believe if we’d started this season with the same feeling and confidence that I had last year, then we could have given Jack a stronger challenge.
How have you enjoyed your tenure with the EHA squad?
I’ll always be very grateful to Edward and Gail [Allingham] for giving me that opportunity last year. I was able to prove myself. That led to a full year’s contract for 2019, and the goal was obviously to try and win the championship. Last year we had a great time and the atmosphere in the team was superb. To give EHA Racing a double at the North West 200 was pretty special and also to push them right to the front in British Supersport was satisfying. We all formed a pretty rich bond if I’m honest.
Riding with David Allingham on the other side of the garage has also been fun. He’s been feeding off my experience as a rookie in the Superbike class. But away from racing we go motocrossing together. At races he would always be there to say ‘good luck and get stuck in’ so he motivates me also. I’d like to think I do the same for him.
Yeah for sure if EHA wanted to go again next season with me I’d love to be part of it all either in Supersport or even Superstock. I’ve built a good rapport with the team. This season was tough having a shared crew with David, but I think both Edward and Gail have recognised that and if they went again next season, I’m sure they would make enough adjustments to guarantee the best efforts possible for both riders. They’ve already proved that with what we achieved in 2018. They are good people who love their racing.
Last season you formed an unlikely bond with Kiwi racing guru Adrian Gorst?
That was immediate if I’m honest. When I jumped on the bike last year at the Metzeler test prior to the North West 200 at Castle Combe – I was impressed with the bike straight away. As a racer you always want to improve things, and anything I suggested, I felt that Adrian’s changes were positive and the bike felt better. Adrian is old-school and I enjoyed working with him. The experience he has and the riders he has looked after over the years; well it speaks for itself.
If I had a bad weekend, he just told me: ‘you were shit today!’ Some riders can’t deal with that, but I had enough respect for him to accept it and vice-versa. He was always one-step ahead. I have to admit, I really enjoyed working with him and had I had a full season with him beside me, I believe that would have made a big difference. In saying that I’m not taking anything away from the CF Motorsport guys, they just don’t have the same experience. Very few in the paddock have. I simply clicked with Gorsty and it worked. That’s it.
You turn 40 today. Will that slow you down or change your outlook going forward?
I simply have the same goals as every top rider, I want to win. I don’t let age become a barrier, but you do need the best package possible.
With the end of season looming, are you starting to look shop around for 2020?
The bigger more established teams are always the target, but we’ve won BSS races and North West 200s here at EHA, so as I say, if the circumstances are right, I’d love to stay.
The North West is a big factor for me. This year on the Thursday night I made a mistake and touched the grass on the little EHA Racing 600 and went down. It is what it is. I tried to redeem myself on the Saturday and was leading in the wet when the engine expired. It’s just been one of those years.
On the Superbike I think the team struggled as much as me with the set-up as they had no data for the wet with the new bike, but we qualified under the previous lap record and also put the EHA Racing R6 on pole position. So it wasn’t all bad and I proved I still have a lot to offer. I think my record speaks for itself.
Is there a third British title in there and a few more NW200 wins?