By Neil Morrison

If 2013 has been memorable for the emergence of Michael Dunlop as a road racing superstar it has also been worth noting the crop of exciting young talent coming through to stake their claim.

And arguably they come no more exciting than 24-year old Dean Harrison, a rider many are tipping for TT stardom in the near future.

Coming into this season Harrison faced high expectations after becoming the fastest ever newcomer at the Ulster Grand Prix and lapping the TT at an impressive 126mph in only his second year. Yet he has exceeded those by regularly placing amongst the top six at the international events.

Backed by RC Express Kawasaki he scored his first podium on the Isle of Man in the Lightweight TT and perhaps even more impressively finished fourth in the Superstock race, raising his fastest time to 128mph. He then won two races at the Southern 100 and gained three more top six finishes at the Ulster. Clearly he's a rider who learns quickly.

Hailing from Bradford, racing was always in the blood at the Harrison household with his father Conrad competing regularly on the Isle of Man in the sidecar events since 1993. It was while hanging around racing paddocks that the young Harrison realised his future lay in racing.

With the Scarborough Gold Cup coming this week spoke with Harrison about his brief career, his ability to learn new circuits quickly and how he wants to be his own man...
Did you always know you wanted to race motorbikes?

Dean Harrison:
The TT is the only thing I ever wanted to do. The Ulster [Grand Prix], the North West, I love all racing, I even love short circuit racing. It doesn't matter where it is, I just love racing bikes. But the TT is the reason I started. It's the next level, it's just unbelievable. Ever since 1993 the two weeks there in June was always my two-week holiday with my Dad and his sidecar.
With your dad being a competitive sidecar driver why did you go down the two-wheel route and not the three?

Dean Harrison:
I like to be independent. I like to make my own decisions and you're the only man on the bike. I don't know why, I just like it that way. I'd have a go on a sidecar; I'd have a go at racing anything. But I chose the solo route and we're not doing that bad so I'll stick with what we're doing.
When did you start racing?

Dean Harrison:
I were 18 at the time so I've been racing five or six years now. I only ever rode a 600, it was the littlest bike I rode, a little CBR, which I bought myself and went racing with. I didn't have a lot of money and my dad didn't have the money to give me to go and buy a bike so I bought it myself at 18 and started there.
You must be delighted with how 2013 has gone so far. You scored a debut podium at the TT and got two hard-fought wins at the Southern 100. Does that constitute a successful season?

Dean Harrison:
Yeah, I'm happy. We've just got to keep carrying on doing what we're doing. I'm happy, the team's happy, Roy and Ben are happy. [Roy & Ben Constable are team owners of RC Express Racing] As long as them two and the sponsors are happy the job's a dream.

Everywhere we've gone this year we have been challenging the top six, sometimes the top three. We even had wins at the Southern 100 and places like that. We have to maintain what we're doing and not get ahead of ourselves because you want a live to fight another day, don't you? You don't want to be crashing and hurting yourself. You have to just take everything in your stride and use your loaf.
You said after you're first podium at the TT in the Lightweight race that it hadn't sunken in. After having some time to reflect upon it how does it feel?

Dean Harrison:
I don't really make a big deal of any of it, I don't know why. I just get on with the job.
Do you still work as a mechanic?

Dean Harrison:
I did do until Thursday [the week before the UGP] I lost my job on Thursday with Roy making me take holiday (laughs).
Do you feel your background as a mechanic has given you good experience in how to set your bikes up?

Dean Harrison:
It makes me very anal and makes me go through stuff. Richard, do you think I'm a bit anal with set-up?

Richard Adams (Maxton R&D suspension guru who works with Dean is also present during the interview): Yeah but when you're doing those speeds you need to have 100 percent confidence so I think it's all part of the mental process thinking 'I can go for this.'

Dean Harrison:
Yeah it must do. To be honest Richard is the man that changes the stuff. And I trust Richard 100 percent. I've said that to Richard since day one, I said 'you look after the suspension' and that's why we've got Maxton stickers on our belly pan and shirts. It keeps him happy and on our side (laughs).

The relationship with me and Richard is I spend most of the time taking the piss to be honest. But when it comes down to it we say 'what are we doing?' Richard puts a point of view across and I agree, nine times out of ten I agree. Sometimes we change it or deviate a little.

Richard Adams:
Really I'm working with you and your feedback and data. It's all like a group decision but at the end of the day Dean's got to be happy with it.

Dean Harrison:
The good thing is the data has been backing me up so far. It's when it doesn't back me up that he's like...[motions arms around his throat & laugh] we're all very honest and honesty is key. If you start keeping stuff back there's no need. Everything needs to be said and it always is. There's never any squabbling or bitching between any of us or nout like that, we just get on with the job.

I do get Richard to help me as much as possible with suspension and I try and absorb as much as I can. But I still ring him up before I make a change because I like to know that he's OK'd it.
How long have you been working together with Maxton?

Dean Harrison:
It's been since my first TT on the R6 [in 2011], that were the first time he helped me.

Richard Adams:
Yeah, that was the first time I met you. Obviously I had known your dad for a while. We go back a long way really, don't we?

Dean Harrison:
Yeah my old man has been using Maxton since he started racing so he's known you since the start.
You've been incredibly adept at learning circuits quickly, impressing at Dundrod and Billown on your first visit. What do you put this down to?

Dean Harrison:
I think Richard does give me an advantage over everyone else. The thing is he knows exactly what I want every time. I can describe something to him and he's always got a scenario to overcome the problem. There's still a day that will come when he can't. Sometimes I say 'the bike's doing this' and Richard will say 'do that.' Every time he makes a change I can tell the change that he's made.

We never have any bullshit, if someone has an issue and they don't tell it to your face they get the piss taken out of them for it. Everyone's here to enjoy themselves. That's the only reason you're here. I think they all need to do a bit more smiling around here. A lot of them walk around the paddock with a face like a slapped arse.

I mean sometimes I'm like 'why are you here?' The only reason I'm here is because I love it. I always remind him that he has got the best job in the world (points to Richard). He pays himself a good salary, drives a Mercedes and lives in a big house (laughs).
Your performance at the Southern 100 eclipsed even your results at the TT...

Dean Harrison:
Yeah, we went well there. Two thirds, two seconds and two firsts. Three lap records too.
Obviously you were riding at close quarters with Michael Dunlop and Guy Martin there. As a rider who is still fairly inexperienced do you pick many things up from them when you're racing against them?

Dean Harrison:
Not really, I just ride my bike. Everyone asks if I follow their lines but I don't really. I mean what happens when you pass the person in front, do they take pointers from me? I passed Guy in the 600 race [at the Southern 100] and won. It's not that, I think you just naturally progress. I just get on my bike and go as fast as I can. If that ain't good enough it ain't good enough. I push as hard as it feels safe to do so or is comfortable and you have your good days and bad days. Not every day can be a good one and some people don't accept that.
What events will you be competing at in the remainder of this year?

Dean Harrison:
We've got the Gold Cup at Scarborough and a British Superstock meeting at Brands. Then we're going to Macau, my first time there. It looks at bit dodgy to be honest but I'm looking forward to it.
What about 2014? Will you be continuing with the set up you have at the moment?

Dean Harrison:
Yep we're continuing with Roy, Ben, RC Express and Maxton. I think with Ian's [Bell] R6 and MSS too.
Does your dad Conrad ever pass on any advice?

Dean Harrison:
Sidecar racing's completely different to solo racing. It's not as high profile; it's more of a guy in love with the sport. Whereas in this it's not, there are a lot of manufacturers involved.

I know how to get my ride, I do my own thing. With my ride I've got everything I want to be fair. I think my bikes are good and I've got no qualms.
Your brother Adrian showed some impressive form on the Isle of Man this year, finishing in the top 20 at his first TT.

Dean Harrison:
He's 28 is my brother, four years older than me. He's talking about getting a 600 for next year so hopefully he'll get that sorted. But yeah, he's a good rider.
How does your mum cope with the three men in the family all racing on the roads?

Dean Harrison:
She smokes a lot of cigs, keeps Lambert and Butler in business. She's the same as all of us though, she obviously doesn't like us doing it but she doesn't stop it. She supports us at all times, she's done it before and does all a mum can do really.
Do you set yourself targets at the start of a meeting?

Dean Harrison:
Better than last year. As long as you can get a few places higher than last year then it's ok. I don't even know where I finished last year to be honest. I came to Dundrod last year and I didn't even have a clue as to how fast I was going. I never even looked at my lap times, I never looked at anything. I got on my 600 and screamed round then jumped on my Stocker and just rode round too. And someone said I had done a 130mph lap but to me that didn't mean anything.
Do you do a lot of laps in your car before the event to learn what way the circuit goes? How did you do it at your first year at the UGP for example?

Dean Harrison:
Yeah, I did between six and ten laps in a transporter van. Then I just rode around. I watched an onboard video, which I got through the post, but to be honest that was it. I just rode round and round and round and got quicker and quicker. Simple as that.
Fantastic Dean, best of luck for the rest of the year and thanks for your time.

Dean Harrison:
Cheers mate.

Harrison will be in action at the Steve Henshaw Gold Cup meeting at Scarborough on the 14th and 15th of September.