After eight previous podium finishes, James Hillier finally took his first victory at the North West 200 with the Quattro Plant Wicked Coatings Kawasaki rider leading the Superstock race from start to finish.
At one stage, he’d built up a lead of almost twenty seconds but a combination of the Hampshire rider easing back slightly and a raging battle for second going on between Davey Todd, Dean Harrison and Richard Cooper saw it down to just 3.2s at the chequered flag with Cooper taking a stunning second place on his debut from Todd.
With a wet front and an intermediate rear, Hillier made a great start and opened up an unheard of lead of nine seconds at the end of the opening lap with Cooper slotting into second ahead of Harrison, Glenn Irwin and Derek Sheils but Peter Hickman and Michael Dunlop were early retirements.
As Hillier disappeared into the distance, Cooper continued to hold onto second on the Buildbase Suzuki but Todd was on the move and was up into third by the end of lap two although Harrison and Irwin remained close behind.
By the end of the third of six laps, Hillier’s lead was up to 19.2s as Irwin moved up to second from Cooper and Todd whilst Derek Sheils, who had got up to fourth half way round the lap, became another high-profile retirement.
As the race wore on, drizzle began to fall and Hillier eased back the pace slightly but Cooper, Harrison and Todd continued to dispute second as Irwin dropped back although he still had a healthy advantage over sixth placed Michael Rutter.
Going into the sixth and final lap, Hillier’s lead had come down to 11s and although the chasing pack closed in rapidly during the final lap, he held on for a well deserved victory after taking second and third place finishes earlier in the week.
Cooper grabbed second on the final run along the coast road to continue his superb debut with Todd taking third on the Penz13.com BMW. Harrison had to settle for fourth with Swiss newcomer Lukas Maurer coming through from the second group to take a brilliant fifth place.
Rutter took sixth ahead of Matthew Ress as Irwin dropped back to eighth with Horst Saiger and Chris Green completing the top ten.