19 May 2014 North West 200 review

A demanding course in its own right, the 8.9 mile Northwest 200 closed public roads course in Portrush Northern Ireland is traditionally the place where riders and teams make ready for the following real roads event, the Isle of Man TT.

With speeds of over 200mph recorded for the fastest bikes in the Superbike class and changeable weather conditions usually part of the challenge, the North West 200 is a festival of racing that is always well attended. For Kawasaki teams and riders, there was plenty to be optimistic about at the 2014 event with competitors in all classes and more than a few predicted to take a podium spot.

A full programme of racing on the Thursday and Saturday of 15 and 17 May kicked off with Superstock, Supersport and Supertwin events.

In Superstock it was former Gearlink Kawasaki rider, Alastair Seeley that took top honours on his Mar-Train Ninja ZX-10R while Horst Saiger placed fifth posting the fastest lap of the race and taking the class upper limit to a 121.214 mph average.

In the Supersport event, two riderswho are hoping to figure strongly on the Isle of Man posted top ten placings with James Hillier in tenth spot on his Quattro Plant/Muc-Off Kawasaki and, one place higher, Daniel Cooper on the Tsingtao WK Kawasaki.

Supertwins was always liable to be a Kawasaki benefit such is the class dominance of the ER-6f and so it was. All machines down to twelfth place were Kawasaki 650’s with Lee Johnston on top of the podium followed by Ivan Lintin and the James Cowton. Special mention has to made for KMR Kawasaki's Keith Amor as well who added the Supertwins lap record to his long list of achievements.

Saturday played host to a packed schedule with five races in all taking place infront of a huge and enthusiastic crowd. Again the Supertwin race was a Kawafest with Lee Johnston taking back to back wins followed by Michael Dunlop then James Cowton and the two KMR Kawasakis of returning legend Ryan Farquhar and former Grand Prix rider, Jeremy McWilliams.

In the first of the Superbike races, Saiger reinforced his TT aspirations with a top ten placing followed by Dean Harrison on the RC Express Racing Ninja ZX-10R. Seeley was once more the top Kawasaki rider in the second of the Superbike races gaining the final podium spot in third while Harrison and Hillier ended eighth and ninth respectively.

Showing strength in numbers, the Kawasaki contingent packed the final placings in the Superstock race with a podium for Gary Johnson on his Lincs Lifting ZX-10R followed by the ever-present Saiger and on-form Seeley. Harrison and Hillier made it five Kawasaki’s in the top ten with their seventh and eighth places.

“As one of the three highest profile road race events in the British Isles, its always fun to come back here”, commented Racing Coordinator for Kawasaki in the UK, Ross Burridge. “In the paddock there was a real buzz and even though there were a fair number of hitches and weather issues it turned out to be a great programme of racing.

I am sure the likes of James Hillier and Dean Harrison have got plenty in reserve for the TT while our friend from Austria, Horst Saiger, continues to impress posting solid results and even a lap record. Finally, we wish to pass on our sincere condolences to the friends and family of Simon Andrews who passed away as a result of an accident during the meeting. He was a great rider and we will all miss him.”