All the headlines for the Vauxhall International North West 200 have been about the Dunlops, McGuinness, Martin, Seeley, Brookes or Anstey, but an outsider who could well be a podium contender is James Hillier.
The 28-year old from Bournemouth is one of the rising stars of road racing riding for the Quattro Plant Kawasaki Team.
Over the last two years Hillier has witnessed his road racing stock grow considerably to such an extent that he scored his first North West podium by finishing third in last year's hotly contested Superstock race.
He finished behind North West legend Michael Rutter (who came from the second group to win) and Alastair Seeley.
The Englishman was also fourth behind the KMR Kawasaki trio in the Supertwin race with a sixth and eighth in both Superbike races recording the 16th fastest speed around the current circuit at 119.138mph – not bad for someone who only made their debut at the Triangle in 2010 with two 19th place finishes in the Superstock and Superbike classes.
He then went to the TT and finished second behind Ryan Farquhar in the Supertwin race adding a number of top ten finishes during the week.
Hillier began racing in the Aprilia Challenge series in 2001, finished fourth in the Yamaha R6 Cup in 2004 and has been a regular points scorer in various BSB classes.
He made his road racing debut at the 2008 TT and Ulster Grand Prix where he finished second behind Ollie Linsdell in the Dundrod 150 National race.
His quest for 2013 is simple – win an international road race.
"I'm not gunning for it and I don't want to break my neck to win one, but I have the machinery and now it's up to me," he explained.
For a man who rates Joey Dunlop as his all-time favourite rider, Hillier opened his 2013 North West campaign with a solid first qualifying session taking fifth in the Supertwin class, seventh in Supersport and ninth in Superstock.
However he has a lot of work to do in the Superbike class, like other fancied runners having only completed one lap on Tuesday morning after his engine expired.
"Practice went fairly good and a few tweaks here and there should see us in the mix," he said.
"The boys are fitting a new engine in the superbike, so we need a dry session in the morning to get into that first group.
"I have only done one BSB at Thruxton this season, so I have not had much time on the bikes as I would have liked, but I'm sure it won't hinder me too much. I'm not too fussed about BSB now, as once you have done the roads the buzz is completely different .
"The North West is nowhere near as demanding as the TT and a lot easier to learn. It is different all together here with the mass start where you need to be in the leading bunch.
"If I can get a clean start the bikes are good enough to be running at the front. A win would be a dream, maybe a few podiums. If I'm going home on the boat with some silverware I'll be happy."
His interest in road racing goes back to when he was a 12-year-old and going to the TT with his dad.
"I knew from then that was what I wanted to do," he added,
"The TT is the ultimate challenge and it draws you into other areas like the North West, which I really enjoy."
On Joey Dunlop being his favourite rider he added: "I watched him in '97 at the TT. He was a special guy, so smooth and so fast. I also have the greatest respect for the likes of Michael Rutter and John McGuinness and it seems surreal to be racing against them – trying to overtake them is a tough job."
When racing gets underway this evening with Supersport, Superstock and Supertwin events keep an eye out for the number 37 with Hillier on board – they could well be in the leading bunch.