BRADFORD’S Dean Harrison will begin his bid for Isle of Man TT glory on the famous 37-and-three-quarter mile Manx circuit this weekend.
Thirty-year-old Harrison, who is also contesting nine rounds of this year’s British Superbike Championship, first won the Isle of Man TT in 2014, and after winning the Supersport title last year he will be going all out to make it a hat-trick of victories in the blue riband event of road racing.
The Silicone Engineering Kawasaki rider will take part in a week of qualifying from today before the races get underway next Saturday.
“I want to try my best to win at least one race at the Isle of Man,” said Harrison, who recorded a 134.9mph lap last year. “Out of the five races you have in the week, if you can get a win and some podiums, that’s a realistic goal.”
Harrison has always had the Isle of Man TT in his blood. His father, Conrad, was a famous sidecar racer and used to take his young son to the TT every year. Notably, the pair were the only father and son duo to win races in the same year in 2014.
“My lifetime ambition when I started riding professionally was to win the Isle of Man TT,” said Harrison. “When I started racing bikes at 18, that was what I had in my mind. I went to the Isle of Man so many times as a child – from the age of about four – that it almost became ingrained on my brain.
“Most people start with short circuit racing and then progress to road racing but I did it the other way round.
“Road racing has always been a love of mine. I’d won a few races before at Scarborough and the small stuff at club meetings but in 2014 I won the TT and I couldn’t believe it, to be honest. I won on a bike that wasn’t as fast as other people’s bikes.
“But as you start to get better and better you almost start to believe in yourself more and you start to think ‘I can actually win this’. Once you’ve got that mentality, everything else becomes easier.”
Success at the TT demands complete concentration, dedication and pinpoint accuracy over the six laps, where a total of 264 bends need to be successfully negotiated each circuit.
Harrison explains: “When you’re going round, your brain gets used to going so fast.
“If you told me where you were standing in the crowd, I could almost pick you out in the crowd because your brain slows down.
“When I come into the pits, I almost think the lads are working really slowly because my brain is so up to speed with riding at 150plus miles-an-hour, I feel like they are in slow motion.
“You have to have a really good judgement of speed and distance because you think you’re going slow but you’re actually going faster than you think! My mind is so up to speed on the faster stuff I struggle to slow it down sometimes.”
With such speed and difficult terrain, accidents are inevitable and the Isle of Man TT has had more than its fair share of fatalities – a fact Harrison always has in the back of his mind.
“You can’t afford to get anything wrong on the TT circuit,” he added. “I first went in 2011 and I’m still learning. You have to go every year with the mindset of knowing your limit. You need to know when it’s your day and not your day at the Isle of Man.
“Last year my mate Dan (Kneen) was killed – he was a race winner and he made a mistake, but you also get newcomers who make mistakes.
“I just want to win the race at the slowest possible pace.
“Lap records will always be broken but when you’ve won, your name’s on the trophy and there’s no taking that away from you.
“Once someone’s broken your lap record, your record is put in the bin. Nobody ever remembers the lap record… they remember the race winner.”