Team Suzuki Press Office – May 19.
Richard Cooper – SST GSX-R1000R – 2nd.
Buildbase Suzuki’s Richard Cooper enjoyed a successful road racing debut this week, coming away from the International North West 200 in northern Ireland with a second-place finish on his Superstock GSX-R1000R, along with the title of fastest-ever newcomer at the event.
Cooper – who currently leads the National Superstock 1000 Championship – worked steadily throughout Tuesday and Thursday’s practice sessions, which took place in glorious sunshine, to improve his pace around the 8.97-mile circuit, and qualified eighth fastest in both the Superstock and Superbike classes. In Thursday’s Superstock race, he got away with the leading group, but kept his head, rode at a comfortable pace, and crossed the line in sixth, coming away with the title of fastest newcomer in the process with a lap speed of 120.659mph on his GSX-R1000R.
With the weather changing for Saturday’s action and leading to delays and changeable track conditions, Cooper raced his GSX-R1000R Superbike, shod with wet tyres, to another impressive sixth place finish.
Tyre choice was the big decision for the event’s second Superstock race, with a mostly dry track littered with damp and wet patches, and the ever-present threat of rain. Electing for a wet front and intermediate rear, Cooper made his way through the pack on the opening lap to move into second place, the position he would contend all the way to the chequered flag.
Swapping positions with his rivals – and also closing in on the race leader in the latter stages – Cooper grabbed second on the run into Juniper Hill for the final time to finish runner-up by just three seconds.
The final Superbike race was cancelled due to the adverse weather conditions and worsening visibility.
“Coming into this event I knew I was going to take my time, learn, and build-up my speed. We took small steps forward since we started on Tuesday and just got faster and faster every time we went out, whether that was on the Superbike or Superstock machine. In the first two races, even when I got away with the fast group at the front, I held back because it wasn’t time to push, I needed to still go at my pace. For the second Superstock race it was different; I felt comfortable – I’ve won in those conditions on a Superbike – and felt I could attack and push harder. But to come away with a podium this week is a dream to be honest.
“But the team was perfect. I always said I wouldn’t come and do this event unless everything came together and with the Buildbase Suzuki team I’ve got a team around me that I trust completely and a team that has loads of experience doing this, plus with the GSX-R, a bike that worked really well all week. I got on the bike for the last Superstock race and Steve [Hicken – Team Manager] told me we were going with a wet front and intermediate rear, and I just got on it and rode it and look where we ended up. I don’t know what gearing or suspension settings we were running or anything. So, I can’t thank them enough for the hard work this week to get us to this point.”