James Hillier bounced back from a broken quickshifter and fourth place in Monday morning’s Superbike TT race to claim a hard-fought runner-up spot in the Supersport race later in the evening.
The Quattro Plant Wicked Coatings Kawasaki rider led in the early stages of the 600cc race and looked set to challenge eventual winner Lee Johnston all the way to the end of the scheduled four-lap encounter but had to settle for second place, his 13th TT podium, after the race was stopped early as rain began to fall on the west part of the circuit.
“I felt really chilled out on the startline and had a good rest after the Superbike race which didn’t quite pan out as I would have liked,” Hillier said afterwards.
“I tried really hard, perhaps too hard, but the times didn’t come whilst the quickshifter problem held me back a bit too so I just reset for the Supersport race.”
The Hampshire rider signalled his intentions from the word go, leading the race at Glen Helen on the opening lap by 1.3s from Johnston, and although the Ulsterman had overturned that deficit into an advantage of 3.9s as they swept round the left hander on lap two, the 34-year-old had a superb run to Ballaugh to bring the gap back down to just 0.6s.
“I was really determined to make amends for the morning’s result and every second counts at the TT so I got my head down at the start although I didn’t quite believe my pit board when I saw P1.
I didn’t know who I was battling with and although conditions were a bit sketchy with strong winds over the Mountain, I gave it everything I had, I didn’t leave anything out there that’s for sure. You can’t afford to hang back.”
As the riders approached the pit stop at half race distance, it looked like we were set for a superb final two laps but with the aforementioned rain, race organisers decided, on safety grounds, to bring the chequered flag out at the completion of the second lap with James awarded second place for yet another TT podium.
“I tried to keep my momentum up but with the rain beginning to fall, it made the race difficult and I was losing grip in a few places.
There’s not as much rubber down as last year and the track temperatures are lower while you were really trusting the marshals to have the flags out where required to warn you of the damp.
“We’ll never know what would have happened on laps three and four but I’m happy with second place and really happy for Lee. He’s someone who I have a lot of respect for and if anyone was to beat me, I would have wanted it to be him.”