James Hillier: New Team, Same Drive
In the first of a series of episodes recorded on location during the Manx Grand Prix, hosts Chris Pritchard and Steve Plater are joined by a man with 14 TT podiums and a Lightweight win under his belt, James Hillier.
After many successful years with BMW, Hillier explains why he decided to finally make a switch and how he feels about his first TT on a Yamaha with OMG Racing. Despite maintaining a good relationship with his old team, the Hampshire man gets honest about the way he felt he was ready for a change.
Speaking about this year’s TT on the Yamaha, Hillier admits that despite managing 5 finishes and a top 7 place in all of them, he wasn’t entirely satisfied with his performance. After a good ride in the Senior, he says that he just couldn’t quite finesse that final bit of the race to finish strong and climb onto the podium.
Continuing the discussion of his TT performances, the seventh fastest man ever around the course admits that his most successful year was also the one where had done the least racing in the run up to the event. He confesses that you can never quite be sure about what will make the difference between an average and a great year after setting off down Bray Hill but the style of racing has definitely changed thanks to the need to try and emulate racers like Peter Hickman and Dean Harrison who have pushed to racing on the roads like you would on the track.
Alongside his mammoth racing efforts, many TT fans will also know James for the video of his almighty save after a wobble at Ballagarey and Chris and Steve are keen to bring it up, despite the rider admitting he wanted to forget about it at the time. Ever the competitor, he reveals his first thought after the incident was to worry about being caught by Ian Hutchinson before taking stock and realising the issue was with his rear shock. He also talks about how this incident taught him about the importance of a rider to look after their bike, something he says not all of them might do.
Not content with simply racing round the mountain course at 130mph, the racer divulges his plans to race at the infamously dangerous Dakar Rally, something which Steve himself once considered. Hillier says that although the more he got into the race the more he wondered what the hell he was doing, he has a hunger to give it a go and finish the course after previous rally experiences, something he says has actually informed his TT efforts.
Finally, the husband and father talks about his family, why he would be nervous to let his children climb onto a racing bike, whether his emotions play into his racing and why finishing his house renovations is on his bucket list.
You can either watch the full Podcast by subscribing for free to TT+ or listen to The TT Podcast through your favourite podcast provider.
Listen now to James Hillier: New Team, Same Drive (Part One)
Listen now to James Hillier: Saving Myself at Ballagarey (Part Two)