Last weekend saw the Quattro Plant Muc-Off Kawasaki team get their 2016 Isle of Man TT Races campaign underway with James Hillier contesting six races.
The third fastest rider in the history of the event, the 31-year old now has one win and six podiums to his name around the Mountain Course and last year saw him claim second in the Senior, third in the Superbike and a close fourth in the Superstock and second Supersport races. Indeed, he finished all six of his races inside the top six, including another podium in the Lightweight race and with a scintillating lap of 132.414mph in the Senior, he was only beaten by John McGuinness.
Hillier comes into the TT riding for Pete Extance’s Bournemouth-based team for the seventh consecutive year and since their first year together in 2010, they’ve had an impressive record, only failing to finish just two of the 33 races they’ve started. The last four years have seen them finish every race inside the top ten.
“Last year was a good year for me and it’s all about trying to win a big bike race now. I’ve done pretty much everything else at the TT but win one,” says James “I’ve won the Lightweight race, taken podiums in the big bikes races and lapped at more than 132mph but my aim is to win a big bike race for sure. I’ve done my apprenticeship and have worked my way up so feel confident that I can do it.”
James’ preparation for the TT didn’t go to plan recently at the North West 200 when a crash in Saturday’s Superstock race left him slightly concussed and he had to sit out the remaining races but, apart from the spill, he showed his competitiveness throughout with some strong results.
Now back to 100% fitness, James will also be a favourite in the Lightweight TT race, and having competed in every race since the class was introduced in 2012, he has the phenomenal record of never having finished lower than second with a win in 2013 and runner-up places in 2012, 2014 and 2015 whilst he also set a new lap record last year at 120.848mph.
“Apart from the crash, obviously, I was pretty happy with how the North West went. In terms of the racing, all of the bikes were good, which I knew they would be, and we there or thereabouts in every class. I felt competitive and pleased with my own riding so I’m just ready for the TT now.”
Team owner Pete Extance added: “We have a tremendous relationship with James and he’s like part of the family so we’re all eagerly looking forward to the TT. It’s been a highly successful partnership thus far and James has given us some excellent results around the Mountain Course, including our first TT win in 2012. He again demonstrated his capabilities last year with three podiums and that stunning 132mph so lap so we’re all quietly confident that more of the same can be achieved this time around.”
James has a busy fortnight ahead of him riding the Kawasaki ZX-10R in the Superbike, Senior and Superstock races, the Kawasaki ZX-6R in the two Supersport encounters and the ER6 650cc Kawasaki in the Lightweight race, which has been increased from three laps to four for 2016.
Practice got underway last Saturday 28th May with the first race, the six-lap Superbike TT, scheduled to get underway at 11.00am this Saturday 4th June.