Carl Phillips has been the revelation of the 2016 Pirelli National Superstock 600 Championship and is described as 'one of Ireland's hottest up and coming riders', the 22-year-old's has grown up with racing in his blood - his road racing father Joe having himself stood on the podium at the Manx GP on two occasions.

With mini-moto's the family toy of choice from an early age, the pair decided to start racing when Phillips was just 10 years old, progressing to short circuits in 2010.

2012 saw him make the jump from 125cc to 600's, having won the Irish Clubman Championship, and by 2014 he had claimed the Ulster and Irish Supersport and Adelaide Masters titles with the British Championship his inevitable next step.

New to the British Superbike paddock in 2015, Phillips had a difficult introduction to life across the pond, with both injury and machine performance issues plaguing his debut season.

Phillips concentrated on using the experience to gain valuable knowledge of the UK's at-times unique and technical circuits, allowing the young Northern Irishman to return for his sophomore year ready for action and determined to make his mark on the 'Junior Superstock' class.

2016 has already seen Phillips claim five podiums from the first seven races aboard the number #32 machine, including two trips to the top step at Brands Hatch and Knockhill. The Lisburn resident has also led the way with two pole positions so far this season, his first of the year adding to the already special occasion of competing in the international paddock - as support for World Superbikes at Donington Park.

Working full-time in the fitness industry between race events, Phillips knows the importance of preparation, especially after the set-back of last year's injury. Spending his free time working on conditioning for the physical and mental aspects of competition, his high intensity training focuses on building his strength, reflexes and stamina in equal measure.

Continuing to work with Sandown Racing, a supporter of Phillips throughout his career, his return to the BSB paddock in 2016 was originally on a 'selected rounds' basis, with the young racer having to continually fundraise to bolster his season.

However, the mid-point of the championship already sees Phillips hold a healthy 29 point lead in the rider standings, and he is eager to continue the trend.

The year hasn't always been smooth sailing, as shown by a difficult round last time out at Thruxton. His visit to the Hampshire circuit was fraught with complications across the weekend and while the Sandown Racing Team worked tirelessly to battle the odds, a frustrated Phillips came away with a disappointing tenth place finish.

Quickly regrouping and determined to bounce back to his early form, the team organised a private test in the days preceding the next competition. Visiting Donington Park to successfully put the Kawasaki ZX-6R through its paces ahead of round seven at Brands Hatch, Phillips is confident that he can continue his championship challenge as the season enters its second half.

The youngster's determination to succeed is matched by his team's belief in his talent. As is the story across the national championship's supporting classes, the Sandown Racing Team is made up of a group of friends, working for free to aid Phillips in his dream. Sandy McCutcheon is the Team's owner with William McKnight as Crew Chief and main mechanic.

McKnight is supported by Neil Johnston and Robbie Ross covering chassis, fuel, wheels and tyres, with all three working seamlessly together across the weekend.

Lizzie and Corin Bellew look after the team at each of the race events, providing accommodation and hospitality, while Greg Murtagh keeps the Facebook page and budgets updated and in check.

Friends and family play an equally important part in the story, with fundraising through the 32 Supporters Club also a regular occurrence, as membership and events are offered throughout the season.

With six rounds still to run in 2016, support remains a prime importance for the self-funded racer if he is to successfully challenge for the title, but if the opening half is anything to go by, Phillips is on certainly course to do just that.

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