After ‘dark times’ of injury, Yorkshire rider Joe Akroyd now frustrated by lockdown

So 2020 was supposed to be Yorkshire speedster Joe Akroyd’s breakthrough year.

Joe Akroyd has been left frustrated by lack of racing.

An impressive showing as a privateer at the Isle of Man TT last summer saw the 30-year-old signed up by Team Classic Suzuki – a “proper” outfit – and handed his big break.

Akroyd was flying, riding “better than ever before”, confident that he could improve on his top-20 finish in the senior class at the TT – one of the most famous motorcycle road races anywhere in the world.

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But then the coronavirus pandemic intervened, wiping out the majority of this season’s calendar and leaving Knaresborough’s Akroyd stuck in neutral.

“Everyone in the sport is in the same position, and I appreciate the bigger picture with the coronavirus situation, but if we’re talking strictly racing, then I’m very frustrated,” he said.

“Getting signed by Team Classic Suzuki was mega. They’re a proper team. This was my big break, really. It’s that first step towards going professional, which is ultimately what I’m aiming for.

“I was also riding better than ever before at the back end of last season. Going into this season I felt I was in a much better place than 12 months previous.

“Now I feel a bit like I’ve been robbed of momentum. The deals I had are going to be honoured. They’ll still be there next season, but it’s another year gone, I’ll be another year older.

“This was my first real structured opportunity to make a real breakthrough and I was going into it feeling good, so it’s disappointing to just be parked up.”

Akroyd’s frustration is all the more understandable when you take into consideration that he is already trying to make up for lost time.

His encouraging form in 2019 came off the back of 18 months out of action following a horror smash on the Isle of Man.

He was faced with the very real possibility that he might not walk again after breaking his back in three places as a result of a 120-mph collision.

Laid stricken in a hospital bed, Akroyd made a promise to himself that his motor racing career would not end there, and over the two years that followed, he “re-built his back, re-built his body” and also re-built his life.

“This time three years ago I didn’t know if I would ever walk again,” he said.

“I couldn’t even put my own socks on for six months after my crash so I’ve had to work really hard.

“There have been some dark, dark times and it hasn’t been easy, but I’m really happy that everything I’ve done has paid off,” he added.

What the immediate future holds for Akroyd remains to be seen, but whether he gets chance to race again this year or not, he insists he is excited by the prospect of getting back on a race-track.

“Obviously the Isle of Man TT, the Southern 100, the North West 200 – all the big races – have already been cancelled,” he added.

“Realistically, the only possibility of any racing this summer is at Scarborough, where there’s a chance that they might get one or two events on at Oliver’s Mount.

“It would be brilliant to get out, but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty at the moment, however I’m excited about the future.

“The Suzuki I’ll be riding is a proper super bike.

“I haven’t had anything of that spec before and the other big thing for me is that all I have to do is turn up and ride.

“I won’t be responsible for the bike. There are mechanics who will take care if it all. That’s a first for me.

“I love working on my bikes, but to just be able to focus on the riding will be massive.”

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