Isle of Man TT champion waiting to roar back into action

WITH no racing on the horizon due to the coronavirus outbreak, Bradford biker Dean Harrison has thrown himself into the engineering business he runs with brother Adrian in a bid to “keep himself sane”.

Dean Harrison: In Oliver's Mount action.

The 31-year-old, who famously claimed the prestigious Isle of Man Senior TT title last year, would just be starting his 2020 British Superbike Championship campaign ahead of a busy road-racing season under normal circumstances. Instead, his bike is firmly locked away in the garage and he is indulging in another of his passions – engineering.

Although best known for feats onboard his Silicone Engineering Kawasaki bike, Harrison is also a qualified mechanic and engineer and he is using those skills to help make ends meet during the coronavirus crisis.

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“It’s been a strange time,” Harrison told The Yorkshire Post. “You can’t really do a lot. You can’t go training, you can’t go to the gym, you’ve got to do what you can at home. You can’t ride your bike up the road to do a bit of training.

Just champion: Senior TT winner Dean Harrison with the winner's trophy. Picture: Stephen Davison

“When you’re so used to a busy lifestyle, for everything to just stop, it’s quite a bit to get your head around.”

He added: “My brother’s been an engineer all his life and I’m a qualified mechanic and trained engineer, so a few months back we thought ‘why don’t we open our own shop?’, so we’ve started our own engineering business in Bradford.

“So, I’ve just been doing a bit of work up there. I’m glad I did it when I did because it’s actually given me something to do, without that I think I would have gone insane!”

With the Isle of Man TT 2020 already cancelled and the British Superbike Championship suspended until at least the end of next month and probably beyond, it could be months before any form of racing is able to take place. However, if and when the sport gets the green light to resume, Harrison will be more than ready to get back on his bike.

“The amount of meetings that have been cancelled is unbelievable, to be honest,” said Harrison.

“We went testing in Spain at the beginning of February and the bike’s all ready to go.

“All we can do is play the waiting game, see how long the whole situation is going to last, and basically see what races we might be able to get in at the end of the season.

“At the end of the day, though, people’s health is more important than racing a motorbike.”

Obviously, the extended lay-off also has financial implications for Harrison, who relies heavily on sponsorship and racing income.

“It’s had a massive effect on my business,” he added.

“Obviously, with no racing I’ve no sponsors now but the situation could be a lot worse so all you can do is basically play it by ear and plod along as you are.

“I’m back at work now as normal and I’ve just got to try and prepare for next year.”

One thing Harrison does know is that when racing does return – whether that is this year or next – it will return at its explosive best and he would love to return to action at Oliver’s Mount if that is how the situation pans out.

“Once it all comes back, I think it’ll all come back with a bit of bang, to be honest,” he said.

“The first meeting of the season at Scarborough has been postponed but, you never know, we might get one at the back end of the year.

“I’ll definitely go do that in September if it is back on.

“So that’s all I can say. All I can do is keep my fingers crossed that this thing blows over quicker than we can perhaps hope.”