North West 200 man of the meeting James Hillier will make the switch to BMW power with the OMG Racing team next year after 14 years riding Kawasaki machinery.
Hillier recently announced that he had parted company amicably with the Bournemouth Kawasaki team to take up a new challenge in 2020 and today the Hampshire man has been confirmed as the British Superbike team’s second rider for the North West and Isle of Man TT, joining forces with Aussie David Johnson.
The 34-year-old claimed a memorable maiden victory around the 8.9-mile ‘Triangle’ course in May and also finished as the runner-up in then Superbike race behind team-mate Glenn Irwin after a gripping last lap duel.
Hillier capped his most successful appearance ever at the famous road race with another rostrum in the Supersport class and he will again compete in both 600cc races next year on a Yamaha R6 with OMG Racing.
The easy-going English rider said: “OMG Racing are putting together a strong package around me
“I’ve had an affinity with Kawasaki for 14 years now and switching machines throws up its own challenges, but I’m really excited by it all. I’m really looking forward to a new chapter in my career for 2020 with OMG Racing and riding the new BMW S1000RR and Yamaha R6,” added Hillier, who rode for Pete Extance’s Bournemouth Kawasaki team for the past decade.
“I’ll be working with a crew chief I know very closely and with the team to develop the bike. It’s definitely the right time for me to make this move and I can’t wait to get started.”
Carrick’s Alistair Seeley, the most successful rider in history at the North West 200 with 24 victories, will ride for the Quattro Plant/Bournemouth Kawasaki team at the North Coast road race next May. A second rider is also due to be announced to fill the void left by Hillier at the TT.
NW200 Event Director Mervyn Whyte said: “James Hillier made his first appearance on a North West podium in 2012.
“That wealth of experience paid off for him in 2019 with victory in the Superstock race and the Man of the Meeting award. Like James, the North West 200 is very grateful for all the support we have received from Pete Extance and his Quattro Plant Kawasaki team down the years.
“We are now looking forward to seeing James back on the NW200 grid aboard new machinery and he will be an important asset to the OMG team as they take on the challenge of road racing.”
Last month, the North West 200 announced a new three-year title sponsorship deal with fonaCAB and Nicholl Oils until 2022.
In addition to the OMG Racing squad of Hillier and Johnson, the Honda Racing team will also return to the event next spring, when Ulsterman Glenn Irwin and rising star Davey Todd will give the brand-new CBR1000RR-R Fireblade its road racing debut.
The Gloucester-based Smiths Racing team – BMW Motorrad’s new official representatives for the international road races in 2020 – will also be on the grid with Peter Hickman, who clinched a dominant win in the opening Superstock event this year.
Also confirmed is Yorkshire’s Dean Harrison, who returns with the Silicone Engineering Racing team on Kawasaki machinery.
The 2020 fonaCAB & Nicholl Oils North West 200 will take place from May 12-16.