Foremost among machines of choice for the three lap race over the legendary 37 ¾ mile mountain course, is the Kawasaki ER-6f. With the vast majority of the entry Kawasaki mounted for a race that took place in warm and dry conditions on Friday 7 June, the chances of an ER-6f winning were strong but by no means assured.
Running the number one plate on all the machines he rode during TT week, the official Kawasaki entry in the Lightweight race, James Hillier, was the first rider away from the race start line accelerating down the world famous Bray Hill. Ten seconds later, popular New Zealand rider, Cameron Donald was flagged away on his Kawasaki followed by such famous road race riders – and former TT race winners - as Conor Cummins, Michael Rutter and Ian Lougher.
Adding to the excitement for Kawasaki fans was the prospect of one of the new pack of “young guns” making an impression with riders Dean Harrison, Jamie Hamilton, Ivan Lintin and Chris Palmer predicted to make an impact.
For many fans around a crowded course it was perhaps a surprise to see highly tuned ER-6f based machines racing at the TT and especially at such high speeds. With riders slip-streaming each other down the longer, straighter sections of the course, the climb over the famous mountain section witnessed a strong early race fight between race leader on the road and timing sheets, James Hillier, and rising stars Dean Harrison and Ivan Lintin followed by local hero, Conor Cummins.
Including a compulsory pit stop as part of the three lap race, many riders elected to simply stop and pull away again with no fuel top up, such is the economy of the parallel twin water-cooled ER-6f engine, even in race tune. Electing to pit on lap one, Hillier broke the existing lap record on his first circulation achieving an average of over 117 mph.
With Kawasaki machines filling the first twelve places going into the second lap, Hillier was being chased hard by the duo of Ivan Lintin and Dean Harrison with Conor Cumnmins also in the mix on his KMR Kawasaki.
Taking a late pre-race decision to take his pit stop and fuel top up after his first lap allowed Hillier the chance to really attack on lap three with a “flying lap” that saw him edge the record he had only recently set even higher to establish an astonishing 119mph average around the demanding closed public roads course and take his first ever Isle of Man TT race win by over 30 seconds from Harrison in second and Manx rider, Cummins, in third.
In all Kawasaki machines dominated the entire top ten finishers with a delighted Hillier celebrating with his Quattro Plant Kawasaki Bournemouth team while setting himself up admirably for his final race of TT week, the Senior.
Speaking later, a delighted Hillier said; "It's an amazing feeling to win and even though we felt the Lightweight race was our best chance of success, it's definitely going to take a while to sink in. It was hard work with the hot weather but I loved every minute of it and the bike worked beautifully. I had a bit of drama on the opening lap when I pulled two tear-offs off instead of one but I pressed on really hard and everything worked as planned.
We were still unsure about our pit stop strategy and 15 minutes before the race we were going to stop at the end of the second but I'm glad we changed our minds. I was paranoid on the last lap that something was going to go wrong as things seemed to be going too well but once I saw 'P1 +25s', I was able to roll off a bit over the Mountain and bring the bike home. I'm over the moon and being a TT winner is an unbelievable feeling."
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