Belfast Telegraph

I've repaid support with record North West 200 win: Jeremy McWilliams

 

Making their point: Glenn Irwin and Jeremy McWilliams were winners on Saturday
Making their point: Glenn Irwin and Jeremy McWilliams were winners on Saturday

By Roy Harris

Coming to the North West 200 since he was in his teens, 55-year-old Jeremy McWilliams has raced all around the world and on Saturday he rode to a tremendous victory in the four-lap JM Paterson Supertwin race around the 8.97mile Portrush-Portstewart–Coleraine circuit to become the oldest winner at the event in its 90th anniversary year.

More remarkable is the fact that McWilliams was bouncing back from two crashes on Thursday in qualifying and race one.

Many a younger man would have thrown the towel, but not Jeremy, riding for Ryan Farquhar’s KMR team, who said: “Yes, I had thought about packing it in after the two crashes, but encouragement from the team, friends and family kept me at it and I’m delighted to have repaid them with the win.”

Even when he woke on Saturday morning and saw the wet conditions he was on the back foot, because he had no wet tyres.

A quick phone call to event sponsors fonaCAB and a taxi was on its way to McWilliams’ home in Glengormley to pick up two wet tyres and deliver them to the paddock.

The race started with a depleted field as some riders decided not to take part, including pole-setter Jamie Coward, Glenn Irwin, Derek McGee and Horst Saiger due to the weather or machine problems.

McWilliams had a clear run through from his row three start and was with Michael Rutter, Thursday’s winner Stefano Bonetti and Christian Elkin as they rounded York.

Italian Bonetti’s moment of history from Thursday was quickly forgotten, as his race was over in a flash, high siding from his Paton as he got on the gas fractionally early coming out of York He was unhurt.

McWilliams was ahead by Ballysally, Elkin led at Mathers Chicane with the KMR Kawasaki in front again by Metropole, taking a 0.116 second lead on to lap two with Rutter two seconds behind the Randalstown man and dropping steadily out of contention.

The two-horse race saw Elkin on his home-built Dynojet NI ER6 Kawasaki — which needed an engine rebuild on Friday after blowing up in Thursday night’s race — lead at all the timing points on lap two, 0.043 seconds ahead of McWilliams at the end of the lap.

McWilliams hit back on lap three to take a half-second lead into the final lap with Rutter some 11 seconds back in third, and with the fastest lap of the race of 104.441mph the ex-Grand Prix winner took his third North West Supertwin win by 1.303 seconds to become the most successful Supertwin rider at the event since it was first introduced to the race programme in 2012.

In a good race for Ryan Farquhar’s KMR Kawasaki team Rutter was third, repeating his Thursday evening result and claiming his 34th North West 200 podium with Matthew Rees fourth.

In the winner’s enclosure afterwards McWilliams said: “I’m delighted. That was one tough race. Christian stayed with me all the way.

“It was also good to have two KMR Kawasakis on the podium after the problems Ryan has had over the last week, including me having to pick myself up off the tarmac twice.”

Elkin said: “I started hearing noises from the engine on the last lap and my visor was steaming up. This is my first podium at the North West since 2008 and my first in the Supertwin class.”

Rutter happy with another North West podium said, tongue firmly in cheek: “I’m not brave enough to go with those two in the conditions. Jeremy of course had to win to pay for the damage from his two crashes!”

2001 Dutch 250cc Grand Prix winner McWilliams never really contemplated road racing while his Grand Prix career was his number one focus. But Farquhar and McWilliams hatched a plan and in 2012 he finished second at the North West behind his new boss. Of course, this wasn’t his first roads experience having won a leg of the infamous Macau Grand Prix street race back in 1993 when it was a two-legged event.

His day job is testing motorcycles for KTM and he has raced many makes of motorcycle successfully and competed in numerous championships, so it is no surprise that he took to the North West circuit and became a winner, with age being no barrier. In fact, he was a late starter to racing — Mondello Park in 1988 on street bikes.

And why stop when the enthusiasm, ability and the desire to compete is still there?

Results board

Junction Retail & Leisure Park Supersport Race: 1. D Todd (Honda) 23m 53.797s; 2. D McGee (Kawasaki) +0.340s; 3. C Cummins (Honda) +0.625s; 4. P Jordan (Yamaha) +3.437s; 5. C Elkin (Yamaha) 1m 19.515s; 6. J Loughlin (Kawasaki) +1m 38.048s

Fastest lap: D McGee 109.481mph

Anchor Bar Superbike Race: 1. G Irwin (Kawasaki) 19m 15.350s; 2. J Hillier (Kawasaki) +0.163s; 3. C Cummins (Honda) +0.461s; 4. D Sheils (Suzuki) +9.842s; 5. A Seeley (Ducati) +19.760s; 6. R Cooper (Suzuki) +35.202s; 7. M Rutter (BMW) +58.989s; 8. M Rees (Kawasaki) +1m 02.498s.

Fastest lap: C Cummins 112.788mph

JM Paterson Supertwin race: 1. J McWilliams (Kawasaki) 20m 51.775s; 2. C Elkin (Kawasaki) +1.303s; 3. M Rutter (Kawasaki) +26.554s; 4. M Rees (Kawasaki) +42.197s; 5. J Loughlin (Kawasaki) +42.645s; 6. F Curinga (Paton) +54.233s

Fastest lap: J McWilliams 104.441mph

CP Hire Superstick race: 1. J Hillier (Kawasaki) 29m 05.081s; 2. R Cooper (Suzuki) +3.260s; 3. D Todd (BMW) +3.387s; 4. D Harrison (Kawasaki)+10.996s; 5. L Maurer (Kawasaki) +51.350s; 6. M Rutter (BMW) +1m 04.961s; 7. M Rees (Kawasaki) +1m 07.948s; 8. G Irwin (Kawasaki) +1m 15.125s

Fastest lap: J Hillier 113.691mph

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