After a week of practice and qualifying around the fabled 37.73 mile ribbon of tarmac that is the Isle of Man TT course, RICH Energy OMG Racing made their racing debut this afternoon with their vastly experienced rider, James Hillier. Contesting the opening event of race week, the RST Superbike TT the team were in confident mood going into the six-lap race.
A strong opening lap saw Hillier, riding a Yamaha R1 for the first time at the TT, post his fastest lap of the week with a 129.82mph lap from a standing start to immediately close the gap on Ian Hutchinson who started 10 seconds ahead. Another 129mph lap on lap two strengthened Hillier’s position as the riders pitted for the first of two stops across the six-lap race. Hutchinson’s visit went the better of the two increased the gap once again.
The pair matched times through laps three and four before Hillier was overtaken by Jamie Coward on the timesheets, dropping to seventh place. As hard as the Lightweight TT winner pushed after the second stop at the end of lap four, both Hutchinson and Coward remained tantalisingly out of reach as the chequered flag dropped on Glencrutchery Road. Hillier’s finish took him to 57 finishes in 61 starts and with much learned about the Yamaha R1, the plan for Friday’s Senior TT is already being formed.
James Hillier, “It’s nice to get the first race out of the way; we finished seventh which is a bit frustrating because I don’t come here to finish seventh. Even though it wasn’t what we wanted it was still enjoyable and great for the team to start and finish their first TT as that’s a challenge in itself here. We’ve something to work on now, I feel ok there are just some changes we can make with the Yamaha R1 for the next race. I think there is potential to definitely be fighting for a podium, but it didn’t quite just work out today, but we’ll keep pushing on. Also, it was great to see the course so busy, there were so many people out there!”