NW200: The Northern Ireland team dreaming of a 'special' win at NI's biggest road race with Richard Cooper

J McC Roofing Kawasaki team owner Jason McGaw will have a smile as wide as the North Atlantic ocean if former top North West 200 newcomer Richard Cooper can deliver a coveted podium on his Supertwin machine.

By Kyle White
Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 2:31 pm
Updated Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 3:32 pm

McGaw moved to bring Cooper into his team to compete in the class after talks with Jeremy McWilliams broke down.

Three-time winner McWilliams will instead ride an IFS Paton backed by the Bayview Hotel, but McGaw is confident Cooper will be a more than able replacement.

The Nottingham rider is a former two-time British Superstock 1000 champion and brings a wealth of experience to the team.

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Richard Cooper on the J McC Roofing Kawasaki during Supertwin practice at the North West 200 on Tuesday.

He produced one of the standout performances on his debut at the North West three years ago, when Cooper claimed a sensational podium in the Superstock race, taking the runner-up spot on the Buildbase Suzuki behind James Hillier.

The 39-year-old will again ride for Stuart and Steve Hicken’s team on Suzuki GSX-R1000 machinery in the Superbike and Superstock events, but Cooper is aiming to add another string to his bow when he makes his roads debut in the Supertwin class on a Kawasaki ER7 built by five-time NW200 winner and Supertwin king Ryan Farquhar.

He impressed first time out on the bike at Kirkistown in Co Down on Easter Monday, securing second place in the opening race behind Adam McLean.

And he continued on an upward trajectory in Tuesday's opening practice, posting the fastest lap in mixed conditions by four seconds from Frenchman Pierre Yves Bian (VAS Engine Paton), with McWilliams a further 1.5s back in third.

J McC Roofing Kawasaki team owner Jason McGaw.

“I think it’s going to be some battle between Richard and Jeremy McWilliams,” he said McGaw, who has plenty of cause for optimism for a big result this week on the north coast.

“Things didn’t work out with Jeremy and then we got talking to Richard and he agreed to ride our Supertwin. He was very impressive when he rode the bike at Kirkistown and he’s obviously got the pedigree of a top rider.

“We’re probably one of the biggest local teams in the paddock now and I put a lot of my own money into this. It takes a lot of effort but we do it because it’s something that we love.

“We take a lot of pride in what we do and we aim to run a professional set-up, but sometimes we maybe don’t get the coverage we would like – that’s just how it goes sometimes but I think we have a very good chance of a result at the North West this year,” he added.

“I’m not sure how competitive the new Aprilia will be and I think it’s between the Kawasaki and Paton – they’re the two bikes for me.”

The first Supertwin race is scheduled to take place on Thursday evening, with race two following on Saturday.

For McGaw, a top-three finish would be something very special at Northern Ireland’s most prestigious road race.

“Richard is a great, down-to-earth guy – he loves the sport and he’s committed to his racing,” he said.

“He’s the kind of rider we’re happy to have in our team and he’s out to win, he’s not out to finish at the back of the pack.

“If he managed to get onto the podium for our team it would be something special for us and for Ryan (Farquhar) as well. Ryan built that bike for me and I’ve been working with Ryan through the years doing different bits and pieces.

“We’re all set to go and it’s about trying to get the result on the day now, but for me Richard has as good a chance as anyone and it’s probably between him and McWilliams, and possibly Adam McLean as well on the McAdoo bike.

“Lee Johnston could be in there as well but he’s on the Aprilia and I just don’t think it will be on a par with our bike.”

McGaw is also supporting American racer Patricia Fernandez in the Superbike, Superstock and Supersport classes.

The Oklahoma woman is the world’s fastest female road racer following a 121mph lap at the 2018 Ulster Grand Prix.

“Patricia Fernandez is also riding for me on an array of bikes and we’re looking forward to working with her also,” he said.

“She’s a strong rider and I’m sure she will give a very good account of herself on our bikes, and we will do everything we can for her. We’re all really looking forward to the event.”