With entries for the 2011 Isle of Man TT Races, fuelled by Monster Energy, now closed, two up and coming teams have confirmed their places on the starting grid on Glencrutchery Road. The pair, Bournemouth Kawasaki and Centurion Racing, will line up with James Hillier and Dan Cooper respectively.
Bournemouth Kawasaki set up their own operation in 2010 after backing the Gearlink and Hawk Kawasaki BSB outfits in previous seasons. The team quickly established themselves as credible competitors in 2010, running both James Hillier in British Superbike Evo and Luke Stapleford in British Supersport.
25-year old Hillier will be participating in his 4th TT meeting and is expected to be challenging for top ten positions in all five of his solo races. He’ll be Kawasaki mounted for the Dainese Superbike, Royal London 360 Superstock and Monster Energy Supersport events. It will be Hillier’s third year with the squad.
Hiller, who will campaign his first full season in the British Superbike Evo Championship in 2011, has taken a total of 10 top-20 finishes from his 12 TT outings, winning an impressive 7 silver and 3 bronze replicas. An excellent debut in 2008 saw James take 17th and 19th in the two Supersport Races, as well as winning the prestigious Newcomers Trophy.
Since then, he has become a permanent fixture in the top 20. His best result to date at the TT was in the 2009 PokerStars Senior, where he placed 9th and he also recorded a 12th placed finish in last year’s Royal London 360 Superstock Race, with a best lap of 125.344mph. That lap time puts him in 25th place on the all-time fastest riders to have lapped the 37 and ¾-mile Mountain Course.
Centurion Racing has enjoyed notable success in the British Superbike Championship paddock since their debut in 2005, winning the British Supersport Cup that same year with Pete Spalding. James Westmoreland and Sam Lowes took the same titles for the team in 2007 and 2009 respectively whilst Cooper himself rode with the squad between 2007 and 2009 taking a best position of 5th overall in the main 2009 British Supersport Championship. Having taken a year out of the sport in 2010, the Cornwall-based team make their return in 2011 with the Isle of Man TT now the focus of their attention.
They will be campaigning with Dan Cooper, who will be returning to the Island after a solid debut in 2010. Riding for the experienced PRF Racing team, the 2006 125cc British Champion finished in 40th place in both Monster Energy Supersport Races, taking one bronze replica and posting a best lap of 115.383mph. Still only 23, Cooper, who will again contest a full season in the British Supersport Championship and will line up in all five solo classes this time, riding a 675 Triumph and 1000cc Honda for Centurion Racing.
TT and Motorsport Development Manager Paul Phillips believes that the teams are part of a growing trend:
“We are receiving more and more enquiries from professional outfits such as Centurion and Bournemouth Kawasaki. It’s good to see new teams quickly becoming established and their professional approach will stand them in good stead. They both have talented riders with long TT careers ahead of them and I fully expect both of these outfits to be challenging the more established teams for podium places in years to come.”