By the middle of the 2009 season, Tommy Hill was teetering on the brink of motorcycling obscurity.
Having been forced to put his burgeoning World Supersport career on hold after an injury riddled 2008, Hill was nonetheless fast-tracked to the Superbike class with Althea Honda this year in the hope he could match his former BSB rivals and countrymen.
The reality was somewhat different, Hill not quite being able to get on terms with the top ten riders and being left in the lower reaches of the points.
By the eighth round of the season, Hill's World Superbike endeavour had come to a less than satisfying conclusion, the Briton clutching six points and a best result of 14th.
Nonetheless, Hill didn't have long to wait before he was back on a bike after being snapped up for a return to British Superbikes with the Worx Crescent Suzuki team. The second rider brought in to replace the injured Sylvain Guintoli, Hill wasted no time in stamping his mark on proceedings, leading the way during practice at Mallory Park.
Although he just missed out on pole position, Hill remained in the fight for victory until he was eliminated – along with five others – by Josh Brookes' now infamous error. Unfortunately for Hill, he would get just one more round on the GSX-R1000 before Guintoli came back to reclaim his machine.
He would be left on the sidelines for just one round though, Hill getting first refusal on the Hydrex Honda after team manager Shaun Muir had lost patience with Karl Harris. Quickly re-adapting to Honda machinery, Hill soon ascended the BSB hierarchy to challenge for victory by the end of the season.
Indeed, two podiums at the Oulton Park season finale was the ideal way for Hill to end an otherwise tumultuous season, the 24-year-old being rewarded for his efforts with a return to Worx Crescent Suzuki, this time for a full-season.
An ideal opportunity for the youngster to re-establish himself as a Superbike rider, success here may well help him clamber onto the world stage once again…
Worx Crescent Suzuki / Hydrex Honda
Suzuki GSX-R1000 / Honda CBR1000RR
2nd (Oulton Park)
Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2008:
Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2009
– Sylvain Guintoli
– Ian Lowry
– John Laverty