Richard Cooper hoping to build on positve start at North West 200

By Aaron O'Neill

Reporter:

By Aaron O'Neill

Email:

aaron.oneill@thechronicle.uk.com

BUILDBASE Suzuki rider Richard Cooper is hoping for another positive display in tomorrow’s second qualifying session at the 90th-anniversary International North West 200.

The Nottingham rider is a newcomer to the event this year, but after a positive start in the first session of the day on Tuesday, Coops piloted his GSX-R1000/R to seventh in the Superstock standings and was less than five seconds off the pace set by Peter Hickman on the Smith’s BMW.

Cooper admitted that he is still getting to grips with the 8.9 mile Triangle Circuit but is confident that his lap times can improve if conditions are in his favour during Thursday’s second qualifying session.

“I am happy with our progress on Tuesday,” said the former British Superstock champion.

“It is always different in real life, road racing is totally different, and there were things I expected and things that I did not expect.

“There are areas on the circuit which I thought would have been quite slow but they proved a little bit harder to learn.

“I feel that I am losing out a little bit on the slower sections but it takes time to get it right here,” he said.

Cooper has Michael Dunlop to thank for his superb flying lap in the opening Superstock session as he believes following the Ballymoney man helped him climb the timing screen on Tuesday.

“I was fortunate to get behind Michael Dunlop and that helped me improve on the slower chicanes,” explained Cooper.

“I was able to let the bike run through the chicanes a bit better.

“We had five laps behind Steve Plater in the Newcomers session then another six laps on the Superbike and I did not see a single rider on track.

“It was good in a way but difficult as well because I did not really know where I was so it was beneficial for me to get a tow from Michael,” he added.

The North West 200 marks Cooper’s maiden appearance on the roads and he said it has been an interesting experience so far.

“It is different for sure,” he said. “You have to treat the track with respect.

“I tried to keep calm in the opening session and focus on my lap times but if we keep chipping away and try to pick up some time along the way.”

‘Cooperman’ comes to the north Coast in good form after a positive start in the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Champipnship. The Nottingham man finds himself top of the standings after two rounds at Silverstone and Oulton Park, eight points ahead of Taylor Mackenzie.

Cooper may prove to be a dark horse at the North West this year and he highlighted that he is not here to make up the numbers at the North West 200’s ‘Meet the Stars’ event back in February. 

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