James Hillier believes practice week and finding a good set-up is the key to his chances of success at this year’s Isle of Man TT with the Quattro Plant Wicked Coatings Kawasaki rider saying he never found the sweet spot with the ZX-10R in 2018.
Coming into his 11th year with Pete Extance’s squad, Hillier has taken twelve podiums at the TT, two of those coming last year with third in both the Superbike and second Supersport races – only missing out on a third podium by 1.8s – but he’s desperate to better that this time around and challenge for the race wins in all of the classes.
“Last year was another strong year for me at the TT but my work needs to be done during practice as finding the right setting will be vital if I’m to stand a chance of winning a big bike race,” Hillier told bikesportnews.com at the launch last night.
“I never got the feeling I wanted from the bike last year, particularly with the rear suspension which affected my drive and acceleration, and, for me, that’s the key in order to be doing the lap times to win.”
I don’t doubt my own ability and believe I can do what Peter and Dean are doing but I need to find that feeling particularly through the high speed turns and changes in direction. When the feeling’s not there, you end up over-riding and over-compensating which is counter-productive.
“The potential’s there so I need to push in the key sections during practice to see what the bike’s doing and get the boxes ticked.”
The bike for Hillier this year will be the new ZX-10RR which he rode for three days at the recent Monteblanco BSB test and he’s excited by what Kawasaki have brought to the table.
“I haven’t done any back to back tests with the new model against last year’s bike but the 2019 version feels really good. The engine is very responsive and that’s going to be of great benefit through all the high gear stuff at the TT. I never chase times, I chase feeling and once I get that, the rest will take care of itself.”
Hillier’s strongest rides last year came in the 600cc class where, after two podiums at the North West 200, he went on to take third and fourth in the two Supersport races whilst continuing with the same team once more will again give him stability off the track.
“I really enjoyed racing the 600 last year and the two second place finishes at the North West put me in a good place ahead of the TT. I lapped at close to 128mph in both races and just simply enjoy riding the bike and when you enjoy it, you naturally go faster.
“The infrastructure of the team is really good and continuing with the same team and same manufacturer helps no end. We know what doesn’t work at the TT so don’t waste time trying things which we shouldn’t. We’ve got a good database of information so we can target the key areas straightaway. We share the same outlook and whilst we all want to win, we go racing to enjoy ourselves as well.”