It speaks volumes for the continuing passion and commitment of veteran Jeremy McWilliams, the oldest rider on the North West grid at 54, that he was disappointed but still smiling after another second place finish in Saturday’s Supertwins race.
Following on from their second place finish on Thursday, Jeremy and his pal Ryan Farquhar’s IEG/KMR Kawasaki team took another runners-up spot on Saturday with the Glengormley man again excelling.
Conditions were again perfect all the way round the 8.9-mile circuit and the four-lap race was another thrilling encounter as the former 250cc Grand Prix winner battled for the race win throughout with young guns James Cowton and Joey Thompson, only missing out on the race win by 0.602s.
A good start saw Jeremy take an early lead on the opening lap but by the time the field started lap two, it was Thompson who led from Adam McLean as Jeremy slipped back to third ahead of Cowton and Thursday’s race winner Martin Jessopp. It looked like it would be another five-rider battle for the race win but McLean and Jessopp soon retired leaving Cowton, Thompson and Jeremy to dispute the race win.
As always, the lead changed hands regularly with lap three alone seeing Jeremy lead at Station, Cowton at Mathers Cross and Thompson at Magherabuoy, Just over a second covered the three riders going into the final lap and it looked like Thompson and Cowton had timed their run to perfection.
However, going into the final Juniper chicane, Cowton seized his opportunity which led to Thompson running onto the grass and as they powered up the hill towards the finish line, Jeremy rode round the outside of Thompson to take second place and his eighth NW200 podium.
Unfortunately, second team KMR member Derek McGee’s run of bad luck continued and despite the bike being repaired after Thursday’s problem with the head gasket, the Mullingar rider was again forced to retire on the opening lap.
Jeremy said afterwards: “That was some craic and although I can’t be too disappointed with another second place, I did think I could have won as the pace was definitely there.
“Ryan’s built a superb bike, as fast as anything else out there, and he made a right call on the gearing which definitely helped.
“The only area I was struggling a wee bit was on the brakes and I couldn’t get the bike stopped and turned as I would have liked but it was great fun and I’m delighted to have taken second place and another North West 200 podium.”
Ryan added: “I’m over the moon with Jeremy’s second place finish and whilst he’s slightly disappointed not to have won, he’s done another great job for the team and a podium at the North West 200 is always worth celebrating.
“It was another fantastic ride on a bike that hadn’t turned a wheel before Thursday and the whole team and sponsors are delighted.
“I’m obviously gutted for Derek again as he was flying in qualifying, one of the fastest men on the track and there’s no doubt in my mind that he would have been disputing the win had he been out there. We fixed the head gasket but another problem occurred so we’ll get a good look at the bike before the TT to ensure he has everything he needs for the island. We’re only a small team operating on a tight budget so I’m very thankful for all the support from our loyal sponsors for making it all possible.”
The team now head to the Isle of Man TT where McGee, Danny Webb, Peter Hickman and one more, as yet un-named rider, will contest the four-lap Lightweight race.
Practice gets underway on Saturday.