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Talented Cooper so excited by the prospect of finally taking to roads


First time: Richard Cooper will race at the NW200 in May
First time: Richard Cooper will race at the NW200 in May

By Roy Harris

Richard Cooper is a high-profile newcomer to this year's 90th Anniversary fonaCAB North West 200 and the 35-year-old from Nottingham can't wait for the first practice session to start.

Riding for the Buildbase Suzuki team, Cooper won the final British Superbike race at Brands Hatch, travelled over to Northern Ireland the following Saturday and clinched a hat trick of wins at the Sunflower Trophy meeting at Bishopscourt, including the feature race, despite it being his first visit to the Co Down circuit.

Cooper finally went back overnight to Mallory Park in Leicestershire and won the prestigious Race of the Year.

So why has it taken so long for the diminutive Cooper to try his first road race?

"I have wanted to do the North West before, but things just didn't line up right. When you ride in the British Superbike championship it is full on and not much time for anything else," said Cooper.

"This year I'm back in the Superstock 1000cc class and it is not just as time consuming, so the opportunity has come about and I can't wait to get to grips with the North West circuit."

Cooper made his racing debut at Mallory Park in 1999 riding a Honda Hornet before taking in the BMW Motorrad Boxer Cup, AMA Formula Extreme, Endurance Racing, Daytona 200, KTM SuperDuke series, Yamaha R1 Cup and Thundersport GB.

"With all that racing behind me and never a road race, I'd heard riders say it is like a drug, but I won't know until I've tried it whether I'll get addicted or not," Cooper added.

"Being safe is very important, but I'm a racer and even in my first year I'm not coming just to ride round, although I'm not going out to break any lap records.

"I have had a number of exploratory laps of the circuit with Steve Plater, an eight-time winner.

"I'm a quick circuit learner, believe in my own ability and I'm old enough and wise enough to approach racing on the roads.

"I also love the Irish fans, they are so knowledgeable. I turned up at the entrance to Bishopscourt in a hired car with two mechanics and the guy on the gate looked in and said, 'that's okay Richard' and waved me on through.

"That still amazes me. Look at tonight and how many people have come here to listen to us and meet with us.

"Does it happen anywhere else?"

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