Causeway Chronicle

RICHARD COOPER AIMING TO MAINTAIN PODIUM PERFORMANCES AT fonaCAB AND NICHOLL OILS NORTH WEST 200.

Richard Cooper arrives at this year’s fonaCAB and Nicholl Oils North West 200 as the leader of the F900R BMW Cup championship and with two podium finishes under his belt aboard the BPE/ Russell Racing Yamaha R6 in the British Supersport series after last weekend’s Oulton Park meeting.  

Fired up by those results, the Nottingham rider, who became the NW200’s fastest newcomer in 2019, intends to continue his recent run of good results in the only road race he competes in. 

“The North West 200 is an established part of my season now.” Cooper explained.

“I have been there twice, been successful both times and gained a lot of experience in all weather conditions.”

That success has included a brilliant runner-up finish on a Buildbase Suzuki in the CP Hire Superstock race during his 2019 debut. The 40 year old returned to the rostrum with a third place finish in last year’s sodden Turkington Superstock event on Thursday evening. The former British Superstock champion went on to claim third place in the Anchor Bar Superbike race and a runner-up result in the Merrow Hotel Superbike event on Saturday aboard the Hawk Racing Suzuki.

The slightly built Englishman also crossed last year’s finish line at the head of the pack in both Supertwin races before both victories were cancelled out because of a technical infringement on his JMC/KMR Kawasaki ER6.

Unfortunately, Cooper won’t compete in the Superbike or Superstock races at this year’s NW200 after concerted efforts to secure a big bike ride came to nought.

“Mervyn Whyte and I had been trying to sort a ride on a stocker BMW with the TAS Racing team but although people were keen to make it happen, it just hasn’t worked out.” a philosophical Cooper explained. 

“I am disappointed especially after the results I had on the big bikes last year but it is what it is and I will just have to try to achieve the best results I can on the bikes I do have.

The 40 year old will concentrate on his NW200 Supersport debut aboard the BPE/Russell Racing Yamaha R6 as he also tries to get to grips with a brand new Michael Rutter prepared R7 Yamaha in both the Milltown Service Station and JM Paterson Supertwin races.

Set to be joined at Portrush in the Northern Irish-based 600cc squad by Dean Harrison, Cooper has already tasted success with the R6 at last year’s Sunflower Trophy meeting at Bishopscourt where he won both Supersport races. Last weekend’s performance at Oulton has convinced him the new machine has the pace to make a major impact at the NW200. 

“I definitely think I can challenge for the podium on the 600.” Cooper said.

“I rode the R6 at Oulton Park to get myself dialled into the bike for the North West and it was amazing. We topped the speed trap at Oulton so I am looking forward to stretching its legs at the North West where top speed is very important.”

His Bathams-liveried R7 Yamaha will provide a very different challenge as delays in the preparation of the new machine mean Cooper’s first sight of the bike will be when he arrives in the North West paddock.

“I just hope it is built and ready for the start of practice on Tuesday!” he smiled.

“It is a completely unknown quantity at the minute. Michael Rutter has done a fantastic job in getting the bike sorted. He came to my rescue this year and I am ready for the challenge.  But I won’t know if it is fast enough or of it will hold together in the races until I get to the North West and ride it. But that will make it even more rewarding if I can do well on it.” 

Richard Cooper in action at Oulton Park aboard BPE Russell Racing Yamaha. PICTURE GAVAN CALDWELL
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Maurice Bradley