Ulster GP: Irwin and Seeley on Dundrod wishlist for race chief Noel Johnston
MCE Ulster Grand Prix supremo Noel Johnston hopes to lure North West 200 showstoppers Glenn Irwin and Alastair Seeley to Dundrod this August.
The Carrick riders produced on the most memorable races in recent history around the 8.9-mile Triangle course in the feature Superbike event this month, with British Superbike contender Irwin narrowly prevailing on his PBM Be Wiser Ducati in a thrilling finale.
It was Irwin’s maiden international triumph on the roads and Johnston believes both riders would also be right in the hunt for silverware if he can secure their signatures for the world’s fastest road race this summer.
Two-time British champion Seeley made his bow at Dundrod 15 years ago in the 750cc Support race, while Irwin chalked up podium finishes at his first attempt in the Supersport class in 2015, one year on from his debut at the event in the Supertwins races.
Johnston revealed both riders expressed an interest in racing at the ‘Prix’ last year and he has vowed to do all he can to bring the duo to the famous road race, where Yorkshire’s Ian Hutchinson made history with the first 134mph lap in a sensational second Superbike race in 2016.
“Seeley is a record-breaker at the North West and brought his usual tremendous form to the circuit this year, which makes Glenn’s victory in the feature Superbike race all the more incredible,” said Clear of the Course Johnston.
“It’s no secret that I’d love to have them both at the Ulster come August; they both expressed an interest last year so I’m hopeful we can make it happen.
“I’ll be working on it over the next few weeks and if we can pull it off, they will certainly add an extra level of excitement to an already strong Superbike line-up.”
Irwin hasn’t ruled out the prospect of returning to Dundrod for a third time but the 27-year-old’s primary objective is the MCE British Superbike Championship.
Should he make it through to the all-important Showdown phase, his BSB commitments could dictate whether or not he lines up at Dundrod on the exotic 1199 Panigale R.
“It felt amazing to get my first international road race win earlier this month at the North West,” said Irwin.
“It was incredible to experience so much home support and it’d be really cool to bring the Ducati to the world’s fastest road race in August.
“I’ll be very happy if we can make it happen but ultimately it depends on how things are going in BSB as I fully expect to be in showdown, which is around the time of the Ulster, so all things need to be considered.”
Seeley filled in for injury victim Davide Giugliano in the most recent BSB round at Oulton Park on the Tyco BMW Superbike.
He began the season riding the prototype Spirit Motorcycles GP Sport R in the Supersport class and the 37-year-old former British Supersport champion showed he has lost none of his drive to succeed, even though Seeley was ineligible to score points in the class.
However, if the 21-time North West 200 winner agrees to race at Dundrod, Johnston expects Seeley to be back in the familiar colours of the Tyco BMW and Gearlink Kawasaki teams.
“Alastair obviously has a very strong relationship with the Tyco BMW squad. He knows the bikes so well and then when it comes to Supersport, the Gearlink Kawasaki boys he’s had so much success with in the past are no strangers in the Dundrod paddock either. “It would be really interesting to have him in the mix in both classes.”
The Isle of Man TT takes centre stage over the next few weeks, with practice scheduled to commence on Saturday evening from 6.20pm.
All eyes will be on the legendary island in the middle of the Irish Sea as the world’s top exponents go for glory around the iconic Mountain Course, but Johnston will be busy working hard behind the scenes to secure some big-hitting names for the last of the ‘big three’ major road races, which will run between August 6-12.
Fans can buy tickets for the Ulster Grand Prix and Dundrod 150 races via Ticketmaster.
Tickets will also be available to buy on the roads approaching the circuit during Bike Week and in the race office.