James Hillier ensured his 2013 Isle of Man TT ended in the best possible way with a stunning, record-breaking victory in Friday’s 3-lap Lightweight TT race. The Quattro Plant Kawasaki rider set lap and race records to claim his maiden TT victory in stunning style and then went on to claim a brilliant fourth place in the Blue Riband Senior race, also becoming the sixth fastest rider ever in the history of the event with a lap of 131.386mph.
After taking a strong sixth in Wednesday’s second Supersport 600cc race, Friday saw James contest both the Lightweight and Senior TT races and he signalled his intentions immediately in the smaller-capacity Lightweight race, smashing the lap record on the opening lap on the 650cc ER6 Kawasaki with a speed of 117.959mph. It gave him an 8.4s lead over fellow Kawasaki rider Dean Harrison and although pit stop strategies then saw a slight shuffling of the leaderboard, by the end of the second lap James was back in the lead. With perfect conditions on the Island, James literally flew round the 37 and 3/4-mile Mountain Course on the final lap and a stunning final lap of 119.130mph saw him take his maiden TT victory by a commanding 33.5s.
Later in the day, he was back out on the 1000cc ZX-10R Kawasaki for the 6-lap Senior and after placing eighth on the opening lap, he soon began to move up the leaderboard. Circulating at high speed on the roads with TT legend, and eventual race winner, John McGuinness, James put in another brilliant performance and not only did he break the 130mph barrier for the first time, he recorded two laps in excess of 131mph. It briefly elevated him to third place but there was nothing between James and Bruce Anstey, the gap going into the final lap just 0.2s and although James set his personal best lap of 131.386mph, Anstey went slightly quicker and his lap of 131.531mph gave him the final podium place by 0.9s. Nevertheless, the fourth place result was an excellent achivement and with his other stunning performances during the week, it wrapped up his best ever week of racing.
There was also joy for Steve Heneghan as he recorded his best ever lap of the Mountain Course, 121.384mph, to claim 33rd in the Senior and win another bronze replica.
Speaking later, a delighted James said; “It’s an amazing feeling to win and even though we felt the Lightweight race was our best chance of success, it’s definitely going to take a while to sink in. 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 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 our minds. I was paranoid on the last lap that something was going to go wrong as things seemed to be going too well but once I saw ‘P1 +25s’, I was able to roll off a bit over the Mountain and bring the bike home. I’m over the moon and being a TT winner is an unbelievable feeling.”
“I was on a massive high but gave it my all again in the Senior and to circulate on the roads with John for four and a half laps was very, very special. I had to keep pinching myself that he was only a few metres in front as he really is the maestro around here and whilst I wanted to come away with a 130mph+ lap this week, to record two in excess of 131mph is unreal. It’s been quite simply a brilliant week and I’d like to thank everyone connected with the Quattro Plant Kawasaki team. They’ve given me superb machinery and the level of support has been fantastic.”
Pictures by Mark Walters