By Layla Williams
After such a thrilling end to the 2011 British Superbike season, it's easy to forget the performances of riders outside the top six 'Title Fighters'.
Riders like Peter Hickman can have their best ever season in BSB, but being outside of all-important top six meant his achievements were obviously overshadowed. However they shouldn't be is forgotten.
Hickman was born into racing; his father rode with the likes of Kenny Roberts in the 70s until a serious accident curtailed his racing career in 1979. Bikes then took him into mechanics and the younger Hickman spent many weekends with his father in the GP and WSBK paddocks.
But it wasn't until a BSB meeting at Cadwell Park when he was 13 that Peter decided he wanted to follow in his dad's footsteps and race. He was sat watching Chaz Davies and Casey Stoner race in the 125cc Superteen Championship when the commentators caught his attention.
“They were talking about how young these guys were racing at 15 years old and I remember thinking, I'm only a couple of years younger than them... I could do this!”
He met one stumbling block pretty early on however. After his own accident his father was not just reluctant to let his son race – he was totally against it. “He pushed me into every sport he could think about to keep me away from racing.”
Seeing Stoner and Davies - and also the immense battles of Walker and Hodgson - made Hickman so desperate to race that he saved up his pocket money for a year and, behind his dad's back, bought his own 'bike'... otherwise known at that point as a pile of parts in a wheelbarrow and hid it behind the house.
“It wasn't until I realised that I had no idea how to put it together that I thought it was time to fess up and ask for help!”
His dad realised that he was serious about going racing, with or without his help, and started supporting his dream by getting in touch with friends who had bikes and land to help get him started.