NW200: Richard Cooper confident of more podiums as he prepares for Supersport debut at north coast meeting
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The Nottingham man, a former two-time National Superstock 1000 champion, has visited the podiums six times in his two appearances at the event, including a sensational runner-up finish in the Superstock class on his debut in 2019.
The 40-year-old finished third in the opening Superstock race 12 months ago and twice finished on the rostrum in the Superbike races, clinching third in the opener and coming home as the runner-up in the second race on the Buildbase Suzuki.
Cooper also crossed the line first in both Supertwin races on the J McC Roofing Kawasaki but was later disqualified from the results on a technical infringement.
This year, he will ride a Yamaha Supersport machine for Northern Ireland team BPE Russell Racing alongside Dean Harrison, while Cooper will also contest the Supertwin races on a Bathams-backed Yamaha R7.
“The North West 200 is an established part of my season now,” said the diminutive Englishman, who finished second in both British Supersport races on the BPE Yamaha at Oulton Park over the bank holiday weekend.
“I have been there twice, been successful both times and gained a lot of experience in all weather conditions.”
Cooper, though, will be absent from the Superbike grid next Saturday after failing to obtain suitable machinery.
“Mervyn Whyte and I had been trying to sort a ride on a ’stocker BMW with the TAS Racing team but although people were keen to make it happen, it just hasn’t worked out,” he said.
“I am disappointed, especially after the results I had on the big bikes last year, but it is what it is and I will just have to try to achieve the best results I can on the bikes I do have.
“I definitely think I can challenge for the podium on the 600. I rode the R6 at Oulton Park to get myself dialled into the bike for the North West and it was amazing. “We topped the speed trap at Oulton so I am looking forward to stretching its legs at the North West where top speed is very important.”
Cooper won both Supersport races on the BPE Yamaha at the Sunflower Trophy meeting at Bishopscourt in Co Down last October, but his new Michael Rutter-prepared Yamaha R7 Supertwin is something of an unknown quantity going into race week on the north coast.
“I just hope it is built and ready for the start of practice on Tuesday,” he joked.
“It is a completely unknown quantity at the minute. Michael Rutter has done a fantastic job in getting the bike sorted.
“He came to my rescue this year and I am ready for the challenge, but I won’t know if it is fast enough or if it will hold together in the races until I get to the North West and ride it.
“But that will make it even more rewarding if I can do well on it.”
Cooper is competing in the BMW F900R Cup series in 2023 on an FHO Racing machine and currently leads the standings after the first two rounds.
Opening practice for the North West 200 gets under way on Tuesday, with roads closed from 9.15am to 3.15pm.