Irwin’s in form but Seeley’s got the experience ahead of Assen races

Alastair Seeley (left), pictured here with Doagh-based Motocross rider Martin Barr, occupies third place in the British Supersport Series heading into round 10 at Assen this weekend. INLT 38-913-CON
Alastair Seeley (left), pictured here with Doagh-based Motocross rider Martin Barr, occupies third place in the British Supersport Series heading into round 10 at Assen this weekend. INLT 38-913-CON
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Round 10 of the British Supersport Championship takes place at Assen in the Netherlands this weekend and two local riders, Alastair Seeley and Glenn Irwin, are in action.

Experienced Seeley occupies third place on 242 points with Irwin 10 behind in fourth. Billy McConnell is the series leader (301 points), with Graeme Gowland breathing down his neck in second (300 points).

Glenn Irwin, fourth in the British Supersport Series, sits 10 points behind fellow Carrick rider Alastair Seeley. INLT 38-912-CON

Glenn Irwin, fourth in the British Supersport Series, sits 10 points behind fellow Carrick rider Alastair Seeley. INLT 38-912-CON

There’s still an outside chance that either of our local riders could clinch the title but at this moment third position is what they are fighting for.

Right now, the momentum lies with 24-year-old Irwin on the Gearlink Kawasaki. He won two of the four races in his last two rounds and appears to be on a roll.

He is no stranger to the fast-flowing Assen circuit having raced there since 2009. His best time came in 2013 when he finished fifth, wrapping up the Supersport Cup championship on a Yamaha. These days he is Kawasaki-mounted and is enjoying a terrific year so far.

He took time out to speak to the Times before setting off for this weekend’s big challenge. “I am looking forward to the meeting,” he said. “It has to be wins I am aiming for but nothing less than podiums will do. Any time I have raced at Assen it has always been on different bikes with different teams which is not ideal. This will be the first time I have gone there with a good package that I have raced all season, so I am confident even before the races start.”

“It has been a good last few rounds for us. Since Knockhill (Round 4) we have been setting the bike up as close to the Triumphs as possible. We know where they are strong and we try to get the Kawasaki as close to that as possible. We know where our bike is good so if we can reduce the deficit between us we are in with a chance. Lately it has paid off as the results have shown.

“As far as the championship is concerned I reckon if I can keep getting the results and maybe the Smith Triumph boys trip up, you never know.”

Seeley, a former winner of the championship, is in a bit of a rut at the moment with results just not going his way. The Mar-Train Yamaha rider has dropped a lot of points over the past two rounds at Cadwell and Donington and if he has any chance of getting another Supersport title he must find the top step of the podium sooner rather than later.

“I need to get my finger out,” he admitted. “There are six races left of the season and I must finish on a high and let the championship take care of itself. I lost 25 points at Cadwell (Round 8) when I crashed out which was a disaster and to be honest I have lost a bit of confidence.

“At the last round, Donington Park, I was fastest through the first and second sector but couldn’t get the last sector right at all which cost me dearly. The bike kept backing in at the hairpin, which I don’t like. We will hopefully get it sorted for Assen and I can get back on the pace. I need to.”

Hamilton happy with low-key Gold Cup meeting

Ballyclare’s Jamie Hamilton had a low-key weekend at the Scarborough Gold Cup meeting.

“All in all, it was a pretty good weekend. I just wanted to relax, enjoy a few races and have a bit of craic. It all went well as I won the classic Superbike race on Dave Dean’s 1990 ZXR 750 Kawasaki on Saturday by 25 from Ryan Farquhar. I took second in the Supertwins race and fourth on the same Kawasaki in the main Superbike race. I was just beaten by John McGuiness in that one.

“On Sunday I fell foul of cold tyres in the opening race and crashed out while leading in the early stages. I did however take third in the Supertwins race,” he said.

Hamilton may race at this weekend’s David Wood memorial race at Bishopscourt. The event marks the penultimate round of the Ulster and Irish championships and with over 170 entries and a prize fund of over £6,000 up for grabs in a 16-race programme the action should be fast and furious.

Wood was the main instigator of the Supersport 600 being introduced into Irish racing so it is fitting that the club have decided this class will be the feature races of the day. The winner will take home £800 and the David Wood memorial trophy.

Under the control of Greenisland’s Mark Sanlon, who is clerk of the course, practice begins at 9 am with the racing getting under way at approximately 11 am.

Spectator’s admission charge is £10 which includes a souvenir programme to the event.

Rossi back on top at Misano

Valentino Rossi, the most popular rider in MotoGP, sent the home crowd went wild at Misano on Sunday as he took his first victory since Assen last year, with Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa also on the podium.

Marc Marquez made his first mistake of 2014 when he crashed out on lap 10 before remounting to finish in 15th.

Nine-time World champion Rossi on the Movistar Yamaha took the lead in the early laps after getting in front of pole man and team-mate Lorenzo and then asserting his authority in an early battle with Marquez before the reigning champion slid off.

Rossi kept the hammer down at the front to eventually win by 1.578s and reach the milestone of 5000 Grand Prix points in style.

It is the 107th victory of Rossi’s remarkable career. First British rider home was Bradley Smith on the Tech3 Yamaha while Ulster rider Michael Laverty brought the PBM machine home in 17th.

“I’m very happy for sure because it’s very special to win here in Misano in front of all the crowd and my family and friends,” he said. “I have to say thank you to Yamaha, to all my team, to all my friends and all the crowd who support me.”