The 90th anniversary of the International Northwest 200 took place in Portstewart, Northern Ireland over the past week and it brought a massive amount of success for Kawasaki and Team Green. With mixed weather conditions and an equally mixed start to the season for Kawasaki, success at this event was of huge importance.
The start of the week brought sunny skies and great riding conditions for the Quattro Plant Wicked Coatings Kawasaki team, with riders Glenn Irwin and James Hillier both enjoying strong practise and qualifying sessions including an excellent 1-2 in the Superbike class and with it the fastest ever lap of the course set by Irwin on his BSB spec Ninja ZX-10RR.
The first three races of the event took place in beautiful conditions on Thursday evening. The Supersport class kicked off proceedings which eventually saw both Hillier and Silicone Engineering Racing Kawasaki rider, Dean Harrison on the podium. The Northwest 200 is an unusual event in which riders have to literally jump off one bike and straight on to another for the following race, no easy feat believe us! The Superstock race that followed was a great battle between Peter Hickman and Glenn Irwin with Irwin eventually settling for second position.
The final race of the evening was the Lightweight class where the field is made up largely of Ninja 650 machinery. Again Kawasaki mounted riders made up two of the podium positions, ending a great evening.
After a day off and a lot of machine fettling on Friday, Saturday came, and with it the bad weather for race day. Unfortunately, a series of incidents and the rain meant that not a lot happened until early afternoon, but when it did, it was a barnstormer for Kawasaki and Team Green!
First up was the Superbike outing, a race that Kawasaki had not won since Mick Grant took the chequered flag in 1977! With the pressure on, Glenn Irwin and James Hillier had an almighty battle at the front of the pack with Irwin eventually crossing the line first and taking his fourth straight Superbike race win and with it our dry spell coming to an end! Hillier crossed the line right behind making a Kawasaki 1-2 finish. A huge boost for the whole team, and a memory that will last a long time!
The second Supertwin race didn’t disappoint; with a number of riders battling at the front of the pack, it was Jeremy McWilliams who took the win on the Ryan Farquhar prepared KMR Kawasaki. It didn’t stop there though as in total the first five riders were all Kawasaki Ninja 650 mounted!
The final race of the day was the Superstock’s once again. James Hillier leapt off the start and proceeded to gain an enormous nineteen second lead at it’s biggest after a tyre gamble paid off in the tricky conditions. However, as the rain set in towards the end of the race, his competitors drew him in, but luckily Hillier managed to hold them off and take the flag for his first ever Northwest 200 win! After such an amazing week, Hillier was also awarded the coveted “Man of the Meeting” trophy.
Senior Racing co-ordinator for Kawasaki Motors UK, Ross Burridge was ecstatic with the results, saying “It’s no secret that we have had a tough start to the year, and this is what everyone needed. Both riders and the whole team have had an amazing week, and for Kawasaki to dominate the event in the way we did is fantastic. I just hope now that this is where our season turns around and we can take this success to both Donington Park this weekend and then on to the Isle of Man TT.”