Jeremy McWilliams created his own niche in North West history by winning the four-lap Vauxhall Supertwin 650cc race riding the Vauxhall Dealers KMR Kawasaki.
This was 49-year-old McWilliams’ first ever Irish road race win following his second place in the same race last year.
The Glengormley rider became the first Irish rider to win both a world championship Grand Prix race and a North West 200 race since Tom Herron, who won the Senior TT in 1976 the last year it counted for world championship points. Herron also won his last North West race in 1978.
McWilliams riding the Ryan Farquhar prepared machine came under tremendous pressure from William Davison in the opening laps of the four lap race, the Kilrea rider and the former Grand Prix veteran side-by-side across the finish line at the end of lap one.
On lap three at York, Davison was ahead with McWilliams hitting back to lead at Ballysally half way around the third lap.
In a heavy braking duel going into Metropole McWilliams shot across the front wheel of Davison to keep the lead and at the end of the lap he had a 1.8sec lead, as Davison disappeared from the action, crashing out at Black Hill uninjured.
A terrific scrap for third between James Hillier, Ivan Lintin, Jamie Hamilton and Lee Johnston was now for the runner-up spot and on the final circuit Hillier (Quattro Plant Kawasaki) got his nose in front to close the gap on McWilliams with a new lap record of 102.238mph to close to 0.8sec behind at the chequered flag with Hamilton on another Vauxhall KMR Kawasaki third, his first ever North West podium.
A delighted McWilliams said afterwards, “This ticks a box I have always wanted. To win a North West 200 race is an amazing feeling. It also lays a few ghosts to rest for the doubters who cast doubts on whether I could win a road race or not. I was under a lot of pressure from young Davison before he disappeared. I struck up a great friendship with Ryan (Farquhar) and he was the instigator of me riding here last year and it’s terrific to win the race for him.”
Lintin, Johnston and Michael Rutter, still feeling the effects of a pre-season testing crash, completed the top six.
Newcomer James Cowton finished in seventh, not bad following a huge accident at Scarborough recently making it great evening for Farquhar with four of his prepared machines in the top seven.
Ryan was delighted with McWilliams’ win saying, “This makes all the hard work worthwhile. I’m delighted for Jeremy, as we have built up a good relationship over the last few years and for him to win his first Irish road race on a Vauxhall Dealers KMR Kawasaki is the icing on the cake for the team.
“In fact all the guys on the team’s machines did exceptionally well and we are in a good position to capitalise on this success come tomorrow. Jamie rode a tremendous race.”