James Hillier and the JG Speedfit Kawasaki team had a strong day’s racing at the International North West 200 on Saturday where, despite some challenging conditions, the Hampshire rider claimed a trio of top ten finishes.
Overnight rain had left the 8.9-mile circuit damp and after a delayed start the Supersport race got underway with Hillier opting for intermediate tyres. At one stage, no less than 12 riders were disputing the lead but at two thirds race distance, rain began to fall and a number of riders on dry tyres began to drop while Hillier did the opposite. Moving forward all the time in the final two laps he was duly rewarded with a good sixth at the chequered flag.
It was a similar story in the opening Superbike race which was cut to four laps and delayed until 3pm due to rain. The race started damp but the track was rapidly drying and although he was tenth at the end of the first lap, Hillier found himself battling with Dean Harrison and Horst Saiger, finishing eighth after four challenging laps.
Next up was the Superstock race with Hillier back in action on the Kawasaki ZX-10R. Conditions were dry when the race got underway and after completing the first lap in eighth place, Hillier was vying with four other riders for sixth place but on lap four the rain began to fall once more and a number of riders eased their pace. The race was stopped on the fifth of six laps with the result taken at the end of lap four thus giving Hillier ninth for his third top ten finish of the day.
That just left the feature seven-lap Superbike race where conditions had cleared and a dry race lay in store for everyone. Unfortunately, a slight issue with the front brake led to him retiring at the end of the second lap but with the podium in Thursday’s Supersport race and four more top ten finishes it was a highly successful trip to Northern Ireland.
Hillier said: “It’s a shame the week ended with a retirement but we had a small issue with the brake on the Superbike and pulling in was the only option. It was a tough, challenging day with the ever-changing conditions and I used my head in all of the races, keeping out of trouble and bringing the bikes home for some solid results. It’s been good preparation for the TT and we’ve learnt an awful lot with the bikes so we’re in good shape heading to the Isle of Man.”
Team Owner Pete Extance said: “After a superb Thursday evening it was a shame Saturday brought us rain and mixed conditions. While the results were pretty good we didn’t see the best from James in such tricky conditions and in fairness I think we all had one eye on the TT.
“I’d also like to wish John McGuiness all the best and a speedy recovery from everyone at JG Speedfit Kawasaki.”
The team will now head to the Isle of Man TT with the opening practice session around the 37 and ¾-mile course taking place on Saturday 27th May.
To keep up to date with the latest news from JG Speedfit Kawasaki you can follow the team on Facebook @JGSpeedfitBournemouthKawasaki on Twitter @JGSpeedfitKawa or visit the website www.jgspeedfitkawasaki.co.uk