James Hillier and the JG Speedfit Kawasaki team completed their campaign at the 2017 Isle of Man TT Races with an excellent fourth place finish in Friday’s Senior race as the Hampshire rider took his third top four finish of the week.
The six-lap race got underway at 3.15pm but James was struggling from the off, the handling of the machine causing him to have a number of moments, and he was back in a very unfamiliar 12th place in the early stages as Peter Hickman and Ian Hutchinson battled for the lead.
However, on lap two, Hutchinson was involved in a crash at the 27th Milestone, suffering a broken femur, which brought out the red flag and the race was restarted over the shorter distance of four laps.
James’ problems were traced to an issue with the rear shock and the team managed to replace the component with a new one, taking it to the line for the re-start at 5.15pm. With the earlier problems still on his mind, a first lap of 129.814mph on the Kawasaki ZX-10R put James in seventh place but as the race wore on, he got into his rhythm and started to move up the leader board.
His second lap around the 37.73-mile circuit of 130.811mph moved him up to fifth and, with a great pit stop by the team, he overhauled Michael Rutter on lap three to climb up to fourth. He soon opened up a ten second margin over Rutter and, riding to his signals, he eased off slightly on lap four with his final lap speed of the TT2017 being 130.568mph.
However, the BMW rider was on a charge and he almost got the better of James, the gap between the two after four hard fought laps and 150.92 miles of racing just 0.644s!
With a second and two fourth places finishes, James ended the week on 46 points to place fourth overall in the Joey Dunlop Championship which completed another excellent week of racing around the Mountain Course.
Hillier said: “Fourth place isn’t where I wanted to finish nor is it where I should be finishing but I did all I could on the day. I’m not sure if I could have carried on if the race hadn’t been red flagged as the problem with the shock was causing the bike to be a real handful. I was having moments everywhere, including a big one at Ballagarey on the first lap.
“It really unsettled me and it took me a while to get going in the restart as it was still on my mind a bit. I gradually got into a bit of a rhythm and brought the bike home for a good fourth. I’m disappointed not to have won a race this week as I felt in really good form and better prepared than ever before but with a second and two fourths, it’s been a good week overall.”
Pete Extance, Team Owner, said: “Straight away James had an issue with the rear shock and only the red flag enabled us to fix the problem. He soldiered on but the shock replaced, he could make a better fist of things in the restart. He wasn’t quite on top form but he got into a good rhythm and with the boys doing a great job at the pit stop, he was able to move up to fourth, which he held onto until the end of the race.
“It wasn’t our best TT but a second and two fourths are still very strong results in a world-class field and a big thank you to all the team and sponsors for a superb job all fortnight. On behalf of JG Speedfit Kawasaki, I’d like to pass on our condolences to the friends and family of Alan Bonner, Jochem van den Hoek and Davey Lambert who sadly lost their lives this week.”
To keep up to date with the latest news from JG Speedfit Kawasaki you can follow the team on Facebook @JGSpeedfitBournemouthKawasaki on Twitter @JGSpeedfitKawa or visit the website www.jgspeedfitkawasaki.co.uk