Alastair Seeley won twice at the North West 200 race meet in Northern Ireland on Saturday to equal Robert Dunlop's all-time record of 15 wins, but missed out on the chance to surpass the mark after two races were abandoned on a difficult day’s racing.
Northern Irishman Seeley went into the action as the clear favourite given his past experiences on the road race near the Giant’s Causeway, his impressive pace during the week’s practice and the performance of his TAS Tyco BMW.
However, despite being in contention for the opening race of the day in the first superstock race, a serious accident involving riders Stephen Thompson and Horst Saiger and a female fan saw the race red flagged, and two further race stoppages meant that the decision was taken to cancel the race.
A medical update on Monday confirmed that both Thompson and the female spectator were in a "stable condition" at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, while Saiger had sustained minor injuries.
Seeley wouldn’t be stopped in the second race of the day though and he clinched victory in the first supersport race following a last-lap move on Lee Johnston. After a pulsating battle with his compatriot as well as newcomer Glenn Irwin, Seeley launched his BMW down the inside of Johnston’s at Juniper Hill, and held on to the lead for career win number 14 around the North West circuit.
In the only superbike race to be run on the day, Seeley managed to win despite the looming threat of a rejuvenated Ian Hutchinson and New Zealand’s Bruce Anstey. For Hutchinson, it proved a strong yet frustrating day as he continuously worked his way into contention for race wins only for red flags to halt his progress, but he showed the pace that helped him to the unprecedented five victories at the 2010 Isle of Man TT before a serious leg injury took him out of the picture for a number of years. The second superbike race, due to wrap up the day’s action, was abandoned before it got underway due to high winds out on the course.
Having matched Dunlop’s record, Seeley did have a chance to take it outright in the second Superstock race, but Johnston would return to spoil the party as he returned the favour of a last-lap pass at Juniper to clinch victory on the ECC/Burdens BMW ahead of Seeley and Hutchinson.
In the supertwins event, former MotoGP rider Jeremy McWilliams emerged triumphant from a race-long battle with his KMR/SGS Kawasaki team-mate Ryan Farquhar and BE Racing Kawasaki’s Jamie Hamilton to win just a month after his 50th birthday.
FEARS GROW OVER CHEVROLET’S INDY 500 DANGERS
With speeds exceeding 230mph at the Indianapolis Speedway, dangerous crashes are expected, but the sight of four airborne crashes – three of which featuring a Chevrolet – have provoked fears over the new aero kit design that has been introduced for the IndyCar oval races.
Both Helio Castroneves and Josef Newgarden were lucky to escape serious injury after high speed crashes at turn one, with England’s Pippa Mann also having a scary accident in practice – although the Honda driver did add that she laid the blame at her own feet rather than the new aero package.
But Ed Carpenters crash on Saturday was perhaps the most scary of all as the American lost control on the exit of turn two, spinning towards the outside concrete wall before a heavy impact saw him lifted into the air and onto the car’s side. Carpenter’s Chevrolet continued to slide along the speedway for some time before finally coming to a rest on its side on the back straight, and fans breathed a sigh of relief when Carpenter managed to free himself from the wreckage without aid to show that he too had escaped injury.
Watch Carpenter's crash below:
The crashes have raised serious concerns over the safety of Chevrolet’s new aero package given that the cars are yet to run wheel-to-wheel like they will in the Indy 500 itself.
AUDI CROWNED NURBURGRING CHAMPIONS ON 24 HOUR DEBUT
Audi’s R8 LMS reigned supreme after 24 hours of high attrition at the Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit on Sunday after a pulsating battle with BMW. The WRT No 28 Audi R8 of Christopher Mies, Edward Sandstrom, Laurens Vanthoor and Nico Muller triumphed at the Nurburgring 24 Hours by just 40 seconds over the Marc VDS No 25 BMW Z4 of Lucas Luhr, Maxime Martin, Markus Palttala and Richard Westbrook.
A number of leading candidates suffered either race-ending crashes or mechanical issues that seriously delayed their progress, including the pole-sitting No 26 Marc VDS BMW and the pre-race favourite No 1 Audi R8 LMS, and frequent rain showers put paid to many other challengers.
With the lead changing regularly in the final few hours as the No 28 and No 25 were within a pit-stop of each other, the race remained very much in the balance, but once the final stops were made the Audi had built a considerable advantage and they even overcame a small pit fire during refuelling to see Mies cross the line and take the chequered flag.Reuse content