"So, why do I race the Isle of Man TT, possibly the most dangerous thing you can do as a human?"
I first competed at the TT back in 2010. I came to a bit of a crossroad in my career racing in Europe and fancied a change. I first came here to race in 2002 as a teenager. I was always at the front of every championship I ever competed, (BSB Superstock, European Superbike etc) winning races, too. Then I stepped up to the Superbike class in BSB, the toughest domestic championship in the world. I scored top 10 finishes but I was never given a ride capable of winning. This did my head in! There was no way I was going to pay to race in a top team.
So there was the Isle of Man TT option.
This offer had been on the table for some time before 2010. My initial plan was to do the TT once, and prove to the big teams I had the skills to warrant a top ride.
Yes, I saw some things in my first year that I can never erase from my memory, riding past big incidents. I have seen more since then. If you recover from seeing a serious incident or riding through the aftermath of one and still want to carry on, then the TT is for you. If it scares the shit out of you and you can’t shake it from your memory, you need to leave the bike in the pits.
To be honest, I didn’t think much of the TT before I did it. Then after my first year of doing it, I was hooked!
My plan of impressing the top teams had worked after my first year. I was always offered decent wages and good bikes to ride for both British championship and the Roads. I won more British championship races but my racing priorities were changing. The TT was becoming my main race of the year. All other races before the TT seemed like a TT warm-up and all races after seemed pointless and a bit boring … it’s so strange how things change.
Other top racers I’m mates with would take a TT win over a world championship race win. It’s become that big around the world. It’s as infectious for the spectators as it is for the riders.
I have so much support from my family. My parents have attended four of my six Isle of Man TTs. My girlfriend also came this year for the first time. They all say it’s better to be there in person and is less of a worry than sitting in front of a PC watching live timing from the other side of the world. Obviously my mum worries the most but they are very proud of me and seeing them so happy after a good result is amazing. They will never stop me doing what I love to do.
Is it worth the risk?
Well it’s a calculated risk for me. I know how hard I’m riding. I don’t push too hard if I’m not confident in my bike. The fastest laps come when you feel like you’re cruising and to get to that point, the bike needs to be perfect. The biggest risk I have at the Isle of Man is a mechanical failure. They do happen, but not regularly.
I’ve seen fellow racers talk shit on the TT, some of them top racers. This really f*cks me off. If you don’t like it, shut up and carry on with your deal – no bike racer should bag any form of event.
Yes, I really want to win a TT, but if the bike ain’t right I’m not going to risk my life. At the end of the day it’s my job. If the bike and myself are working perfectly together, I’ll go for the win. It’s my sixth year at the TT this year and I am classed as a front-runner so a win is possible.