Hilier wins record-breaking Lightweight TT
James Hillier won a record-breaking Lightweight TT race on Friday with the Quattro Plant Kawasaki rider smashing the lap and race records on his way to a maiden TT victory. The 28-year old broke the old lap record on each of the three laps with his final lap speed of 119.130mph giving him a 33.5s margin over Dean Harrison who took his debut podium in second with Conor Cummins in third.
“It’s an amazing feeling to win and it’s definitely going to take a while to sink in,” said Hillier afterwards. “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 a 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 out minds! I was paranoid on the last lap that something was going to go wrong as things seemed to be going too well and once I saw a board saying ‘P1 +25s’, I was able to roll off a bit over the Mountain and bring the bike home. I’m over the moon and it’s an unbelievable feeling.”
With perfect conditions on the Island, it was Harrison who made the early running with his lead over Hillier at Glen Helen on the opening lap a miniscule 0.05s but by Ramsey, Hillier had taken over the lead and with an opening lap of 117.959mph, he was 5.4s clear of Harrison with Lintin still in third ahead of Cummins, Jamie Hamilton and Michael Rutter.
However, pit stop strategy then came into play and whilst the majority of the riders opted to stop after their first lap, Lintin, Chris Palmer and Ian Lougher were the three riders in the top ten who went straight through.
That gave Lintin the lead at Glen Helen although it wouldn’t be until after the pit stops at the end of lap two that the true pattern would emerge. Hillier was setting a ferocious pace though and ate into Lintin’s advantage all the way round the lap and as he swept across the line and Lintin pitted at the end of lap two, he was back in the lead by over three seconds.
Going through Glen Helen on the final lap, Hillier’s lead was a more than healthy 21s with Harrison in turn holding a similar lead over Cummins but Lintin was only a further second back and the final podium spot would go all the way to the chequered flag.
Hillier, number one on the road and in the race, flashed over the line with that stunning 119mph+ lap, which was also quicker than John McGuinness’ old 250cc lap record of 118.29mph from 1999, and he duly took his maiden TT victory with Harrison taking a brilliant second.
All eyes turned to the battle for third and it was Cummins who came out on top by 4.2s, for his first podium since 2010, with Lintin’s second lap pit stop strategy dropping him back to fourth. Hamilton had an excellent ride into fifth with Rutter making it three KMR Kawasaki’s in the top six as he took a solid sixth.