James Hillier commits to North West 200 return

James Hillier in action at the North West 200 last year
James Hillier in action at the North West 200 last year

English star James Hillier will return to the Vauxhall International North West 200 in May with a full stable of Quattro Plant Kawasaki machinery.

Hillier, who notched his best result in the Supertwin class with second place behind Jeremy McWilliams last year, will compete in the Superbike, Superstock and Supersport races plus both Supertwin events for the Bournemouth team.

A rising star in the international road racing arena, Hillier rose to prominence at the Isle of Man TT in 2013, taking his maiden victory on the Mountain Course in the Lightweight Supertwin race.

The 28-year-old was also in contention for a sensational podium finish in the prestigious Senior race before he was overhauled for third place by the hard-charging Bruce Anstey on the sixth and final lap.

He lapped in excess of 131mph to set his stall out as a major contender for Superbike honours at the international meetings this season.

Looking ahead to the North West, Hillier feels the Supertwin class holds his best opportunity for success on the 8.9-mile Triangle course, but he can’t be discounted for rostrum plaudits in any class.

“Probably my best odds of success are in the Supertwins races,” Hillier said.

“I would like to improve on my position in every class this year so to do that in the Twins I will have to win.

“We will have a new bike that will be better than last year’s ER6 with some engine changes and chassis improvements and there is more to come from me as well. Over the last couple of years the Supertwins races have been run in damp or wet conditions and I wasn’t really sure how hard to push from the start so I hope it will be dry this year and I get away well at the beginning.”

Hillier - who also finished on the podium in third place behind Michael Rutter and Alastair Seeley in the Superstock class in 2012 - acknowledges that the challenges thrown up by the North West 200 are vastly different from any other road race.

“I love it. I like going fast and that is what the North West is all about. There is a lot of grinning inside the helmet,” he said.

“It is very different from any other road race because it is all about speed and braking. You need to get a good start and be with the boys at the front at the end of the first lap to have any chance of winning. Then it is all down to who can brake the latest on the last lap.”

Hillier had been linked with a move to Honda for 2014 alongside Isle of Man TT great John McGuinness but demonstrated his faith in the Kawasaki machines by signing with the Quattro Plant-backed outfit for another season.

Team boss Pete Extance admitted: “Both the team and Kawasaki UK worked hard to retain the services of James for the coming season after his successes on the roads last season and his steady progression towards being a top flight roads rider.

“We are determined to finish the job off and put James on the top step in many international road races this year.”

North West 200 Event Director, Mervyn Whyte MBE, added: “It is great news to have James and his Quattro Plant team back at the Vauxhall North West 200, especially now that they are the official Kawasaki UK road race team.

“With his North West and TT performances last season James showed that he will be one of the men to beat at Portrush on May 17.”