First race for Tyco BMW at Snetterton… I loved every minute of it!!!
Now that I’ve had a little bit of time to sit back and reflect on my first weekend as a fully-fledged British Superbike rider with the Tyco BMW team… I must be honest and say, there was a lot to take it.
But I loved every minute of it!
I’ve always remained very friendly with the TAS Racing team and went out of my way to pop in and have a coffee with them on weekends, hopefully without making a nuisance of myself. In turn, I’ve always tried to grab a chat with team manager Philip Neill and make him aware that I was keen to ride his bikes at some point in the future.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would happen this season. If I’m honest I didn’t really see myself getting a Superbike opportunity in 2017, never mind with one of the leading teams in the paddock in TAS Racing who represent BMW Motorrad in an official capacity.
But opportunities present themselves in this sport when you least expect them, and by making sure I kept myself in and around the sharp end, by turning up almost every weekend at each round despite not racing, I think this helped a lot.
I’ve also surrounded myself with some good people who not only give me solid advice, but in true Northern Irish fashion, they don’t sugar coat anything, which despite working as a tattoo artist – which thankfully is in vogue currently – these people keep me grounded.
My goal has always been to succeed in racing but I’m proud of the hard work I’ve put in as a tattoo artist and it’s sensible to have something to fall back on at this point in my career. I love what I do and the clients are all different. I love meeting new and interesting people and there’s a big cross-over between the two industries, as most of the riders have invested in some ink and those that haven’t seem to be looking to do so.
In racing terms, making my debut for Tyco BMW was an amazing experience, and never mind pulling out of pit lane for the first session – I couldn’t sleep the night before the test, ten days previous, and at that stage I hadn’t even got the job.
BSB is a massive business and a 20-strong team are involved in the Tyco BMW squad from logistics to hospitality and then there’s that little bit at the end called ‘racing motorcycles’!
It was a great weekend PR wise for the team blooding two rookies in both myself and Josh Elliott, who was standing in for Christian Iddon, who is still recovering from an arm injury.
We made solid progress all weekend, and even though the results maybe didn’t reflect the effort, this is very much a work in progress, in what is undoubtedly the world’s toughest domestic Superbike series.
I’ve always had confidence in my ability and my conviction to succeed, and whilst it’s a little frustrating coming from the Supersport class where I was a regular front-runner and race winner – I know Rome cannot be built in a day in the Superbike class. I’m looking forward to riding and learning from Christian in the coming rounds as he’s a great guy and a very talented rider.
The Tyco BMW S1000RR is an amazingly enjoyable machine to ride and whilst we chipped away throughout all sessions and shaved off huge chunks of time. Once you get within 2.5sec of the pole position guy, it’s only natural that closing the gap to within a second and a top 10 to 15 spot in the points is going to take time and experience.
I’ve been up in the team workshop a couple of times since Snetterton and they are a great bunch of guys to work with and have been very encouraging. I’m not expecting miracles even next time out at Brands Hatch at the end of July, but I do have goals and targets that I’ve set myself.
They are realistic and along with the team, I know we can keep moving forward and pushing that number 18 Tyco BMW closer to the business end of the championship. I’ve a lot to learn of course as a series rookie, but I’m all ears, and I know this is a big opportunity that I plan on grabbing with both hands.
Thanks firstly to Philip Neill for taking a chance on me and the boys [and girls!] in the team for making me feel so welcome. Also, a big thanks to my personal sponsors who have stepped in to support me in my quest to become and BSB regular and a competitive one at that.