Peter Hickman comes into this year’s Isle of Man TT Races very much as the man to beat after smashing the record books last year on the Smiths Racing BMW but he’s not reading too much into the favourite tag and approaching this year’s event exactly as he had done previously.
And the outright lap record holder will enter the Lightweight TT this year on one of the new Nortons alongside legend John McGuinness and fellow new signing Davey Todd.
“Last year was pretty special for me not just at the TT but elsewhere on the roads winning at all four of the Internationals which I don’t think has been done before,” Hickman told bikesportnews.com at the TT launch event today.
“But that’s in the past now and 2019 is a different year so I have no real expectations and will take it as it comes. I always try to keep chilled out when it comes to the roads and don’t worry about the results. I enjoy it more that way and what will be, will be.”
Remaining with the Smiths Racing team for a four consecutive year, it’s an environment that clearly works well for Hickman but he has a new challenge this year with an all-new BMW S1000RR.
The late arrival of the machine meant he was forced to miss the official BSB tests at Monteblanco and Portimao which he admits isn’t the ideal preparation for the season ahead.
We didn’t have any choice when it came to missing the tests as we only got the bikes ten days ago.
“There’s only 40 days to the first BSB round so it’s making life a bit difficult but we’ll work it out as we go along and early indications from the World Superbike team is that the bike has a great chassis which will obviously be of benefit at the TT.
At the same time, what worked well on the Mountain Course with the BMW last year won’t necessarily be the same this time so with other changes with other teams and manufacturers it’s going to be an interesting year.”
“What’s good for me is that I’m with the same team and have the same people around me and it’s a place where I feel really happy.
“It’s a tight-knit family and everyone knows what their job is and enjoys doing it too. As a rider, that gives you a lot of confidence and when you have that, it makes riding an awful lot more fun.”
Last year’s TT saw Hickman overcome the disappointment of retiring from the Superbike race to go on to win the Superstock and Senior races, setting lap records in each which included a new outright lap record of 135.452mph but he isn’t making any predictions about what will happen this June.
We have a brand new bike so it’s hard to say what we can achieve and ultimately we won’t know until we get there.
“Like I say, the chassis looks strong and we may well run standard motors but we may encounter problems we haven’t encountered before.
We also had perfect weather all fortnight last year so that plays a huge part in the outcome and the speeds were high because the races required them to be.”
“I try not to over think things or over analyse things but looking at how last year’s Senior went and the lap record, I got held up in a few places so I think there’s a 136mph lap out there but if you can win a race lapping at 128mph, you’ll take it as you always want to win at the slowest possible speed.”
In addition to the BMW for the 1000cc races, Hickman will continue with Triumph power for the two Supersport races, where he’s been on the podium in all three of the last races. He’ll also be riding one of the new Nortons in the Lightweight class so has plenty to aim for in 2019.”
“I’m really happy with the Triumph and although I’m not a 600 rider, it’s given me some great results but it takes me a while to get going and it’s only at the Ulster that I feel at my best on it.
“We’ve been running essentially a five-year old bike but have a new one this time around which should make us stronger whilst the Norton is certainly a new challenge. It’s good to be riding for another British manufacturer and with dad having history with the Norton brand, I’m looking forward to riding it for the first time.”