Jeremy McWilliams is targeting more rostrum glory at the North West 200 today after proving that age is no barrier in road racing with an exceptional ride to third in Thursday’s Supersport race.
The 58-year-old’s performance was a standout moment as he shared the stage with Alastair Seeley, who extended his record tally of ‘Triangle’ wins to 26 after a Supersport and Superstock double.
What was even more impressive about the result by former MotoGP star McWilliams was his lack of time on the Burrows Engineering/RK Racing Yamaha, with the three-time NW200 winner drafted into the team as a replacement for Cork’s Mike Browne, who broke his ankles in a crash last month at the Cookstown 100.
McWilliams lines up again for John Burrows’ Dungannon team in the Supersport race today and is one of the favourites for Supertwin honours on the IFS/Bayview Hotel Paton.
He already has three wins in the Supertwin class on Kawasaki machinery prepared by Ryan Farquhar, but McWilliams faces a new challenge today on the Italian bike when he goes up against pole man Richard Cooper, who is riding a Kawasaki built by Farquhar for the J McC Roofing team.
And on Thursday’s form, McWilliams is hoping there is more to come.
“I’m having a great year, with winning at Daytona [in the Baggers race] and then to come here, first time on the bike, and put it on the podium,” said the Northern Ireland man.
“It’s a dream come true and thanks to John [Burrows] for inviting me. These moments don’t come around too often, particularly at my age!
“I’m over the moon and I really enjoyed the race. It was a lot of fun getting in amongst them at the front and hopefully there’s more to come on Saturday.”
One big disappointment for McWilliams was the cancellation of the scheduled four-lap Supertwin race on Thursday.
The organisers called the race off, citing fading light, deteriorating weather conditions and a lack of time.
However, McWilliams felt the race could have gone ahead, and dismissed the suggestion that an additional Supertwin event could be held today.
“That’s not going to happen, we’re going to run out of time on Saturday,” he said.
“I was ready to go, the front two rows were willing to race. Who wanted it pulled?”
McWilliams’ Supersport rostrum was the first top-three result for the Burrows team since Jamie Hamilton twice finished third in the 2015 Supertwin races.
“It’s incredible and he has made our North West,” said a delighted Burrows.
“The last time we were on the podium was with Jamie Hamilton in 2015, and it was Jeremy who beat us then!
“I’ve long been a fan and I’m delighted to have Jeremy ride for us in our team, and now we’re looking forward to Saturday.”
Along with McWilliams and Cooper, Frenchman Pierre Yves Bian could be a surprise package today on his VAS Paton Supertwin after a strong performance in qualifying, while Ulster riders Michael Dunlop and Paul Jordan will also fancy their chances.
However, Adam McLean has a mountain to climb from 33rd on the grid after breaking down in final qualifying on Thursday on the McAdoo Kawasaki.