Exclusive: Peter Hickman Q & A
"I wanted it to be like the drive to work every day that you can do with your eyes closed. I was only doing it at forty miles an hour but I knew where I was going."

The fastest newcomer award, presented to a rider debuting the Isle of Man TT course, has been the focus of much attention in recent years. Since Steve Plater broke the record in 2007 with a staggering average lap, three other riders have gone faster in their debut year.

The most recent of which was Peter Hickman who caused a stir by posting an average speed of 129.104mph around the 37-mile circuit, obliterating Josh Brookes' year old mark in the process. The 27-year old now sits 19th in terms of fastest riders around the mountain track.

Crash.net caught up with Peter to talk about starting the year by working without racing, catching Michael Rutter's tow, and that Senior lap time.

Crash.net:
Where are you at the moment Peter?

Peter Hickman:
Just at work actually but I can work and talk. My boss is standing about five foot away but he'll get over it!

Crash.net:
You were drafted in at the last minute at Snetterton [with the Tsingtao WK Kawasaki team]. When did you learn you were riding that weekend?

Peter Hickman:
I didn't go to Snetterton with the intention of even riding. I was actually half way there when I got the phone call. To jump in half way through the weekend was always going to be tough but it went how I thought it would go pretty much. I had a bit of fun anyway. I pulled some wheelies, did some skids and that's about it.

Crash.net:
How did you find getting back on the short circuits after missing the first two rounds?

Peter Hickman:
I hadn't ridden a Superbike since last October. It was a good exercise in getting myself back into things. Unfortunately things weren't quite right with the bike but it was alright, exactly how I thought it would be.

Crash.net:
The announcement came in March that you would race. Was the TT something you always wanted to do or was it more or was it more to do with circumstance?

Peter Hickman:
A bit of both to be quite honest. It was something that I was already looking at and the opportunity arose in the right circumstances for myself so I thought, 'Why not, let's have a go!' It was brilliant. I really enjoyed the whole experience, the North West and TT were both really good fun and they couldn't have gone any better.

Crash.net:
Your Dad has a bit of history with the mountain course, winning a Manx GP in the 70s. Was a place you visited growing up?

Peter Hickman:
He did a couple of TTs and he did the Manx. He actually won a Manx but he did a couple of TTs as well. There's a little bit of history there although he didn't want me to do it! I went to the event when I was one year old back in 1988 but other than that the first time I went was actually last year. I went just to have a look and see what it was all about.

Crash.net:
Your approach to the event must have been quite detailed to go so quick from the off. What did that include doing?

Peter Hickman:
Well I did near on seventy laps in a hire car between January and the end of April. I did about seven trips over to the Isle of Man and kept going round and round. I did some night laps, did some day laps and watched a lot of onboard videos from last year. I just tried to do as much as possible. I didn't know the course inside out but I knew where we went right, where we went left, where there was a jump and all the rest of it. Even when I did my first lap with Milky [Quayle] on the Monday night [of practice week] I never got lost once. I even knew what gear to be in roughly so I was really prepared for what was coming. I wanted it to be like the drive to work every day that you can do with your eyes closed. I was only doing it at forty miles an hour but I knew where I was going.

Crash.net:
By the end of race week did it feel like that, even though you were going well over 140mph?

Peter Hickman:
To be fair I kind of felt like that all along. I had learnt loads and I was still learning in the last race. Even on that last lap I changed a few things. Some things worked, others didn't. I ran wide in a couple of places but there was nothing dramatic at all. I didn't scare myself, I maybe went a few feet off line in places rather than hitting kerbs. I didn't hit one kerb throughout the two weeks. It was the same at the North West too. It was all just learning, every lap I learnt a little bit more and every lap I did was that bit faster again and again. It was just about piecing it all together really.

Crash.net:
All riders are different but did you set yourself any targets at the start of the week?

Peter Hickman:
I tried not to. I turned up with the mindset of 'once I'm over 120mph I'll be happy.' I did that early on, a lot earlier than I expected. Although I didn't push for it I figured that I could push for [a] 125mph [lap], which I achieved in the first Superbike race on the Saturday. I did 126.2 on the Saturday and was well happy with that. That was on a Superstock bike too and I figured that's where I should be. I looked at what Josh Brookes did the year before on a Superbike that he had known and ridden for three years. I figured if he could do 128mph then about 125 on a 'Stocker' is where I should be. I was pretty pleased to have done that and then obviously ended up going a lot faster again. I think it surprised everyone as much as it did me! I didn't think I was capable of doing that and it came around a bit faster than I thought.

Crash.net:
Does your mindset change when you've exceeded expectations so early in the week?

Peter Hickman:
Not really. It was more about just letting it happen and going from there. I think I did 123 on the Friday of practice week and I was happy considering we had missed three nights of practice. But I just enjoyed the overall experience, it was real good fun. I've got something to come back for next year.

Crash.net:
I've heard some newcomers say in the past that the best thing that happened to them during practice was to get passed by one of the top 10. You can see the lines first hand. Did you have this experience?

Peter Hickman:
Not at all really. It was only really early on the Thursday night when Michael Rutter passed me. He was on a Supersport bike so I could catch up a bit on the straights. To be fair I think he rolled off for me and helped me around which was real good. I did 115 by myself and from a standing start and on my last lap he came through at the bottom of Barregarrow. I followed him through to the Grandstand. It was good, he kept having a little look over the shoulder to make sure I was still there and it helped out a lot.

Crash.net:
When you finished the Senior did you know it had been a fast one? Did it feel quick?

Peter Hickman:
Yes and no. I felt like I had pieced a lot together but I had run wide in some places and did some things that I knew maybe weren't right. I figured it might have been faster than what I had been going but I wasn't too sure on what I had done already. I knew when I came in for my first pit stop that I had done 127.6 on the second lap, I heard that over the tannoy and knew I was in the ball park. I wasn't sure how fast I'd gone. In fairness I didn't even ask, I was told it rather than asking. I was just really happy that I had finished around eleventh, it was really good.

Crash.net:
In the Superstock race you gained close to ten seconds on John McGuinness on the final lap to overtake him and finish 10th. Was that something you could have imagined going into the event?

Peter Hickman:
Obviously John wasn't very well. We all know that he wasn't at his peak performance by any means but even so to beat the 'King of the Mountain' around there was something a little bit special and unexpected.

Crash.net:
Despite your final lap time are there areas you feel you can improve on around the mountain circuit?

Peter Hickman:
There are still loads. Looking back I know there are a lot of areas that I can go faster. Even looking back on the last lap I can see there are a lot of places where I could make time up. I was trying not to rush. I just wanted to keep riding in my comfort zone and that's exactly how I felt for the whole two weeks.

Crash.net:
Considering your good record in BSB and the fact you've finished inside the top 10 in a WSBK race were you surprised by the lack of options available to you this year? Or is it something you've come to expect?

Peter Hickman:
Obviously I was gutted no to be there. I don't really know how to describe the way I felt not being there. I've been in Superbikes since '06 so it's hard to return after not being there. But with motorsport it isn't always about how fast riders are. A lot can be down to budget and I wasn't able to raise the budget that was required. I'm at work anyway, have a lot of things going on and was concentrating on the TT. Because I didn't have a Superbike ride all my focus was on the TT and that's why I was able to put in so much homework and do so many laps.

Crash.net:
Looking ahead to the rest of the year, are you due to race in Macau?

Peter Hickman:
Yes, I hope so. The plan is to be racing in Macau. The Ulster is a possibility but I don't know yet. It could be with them [Ice Valley Racing] but I'm also talking to some other teams as well.

Crash.net:
Will a Superbike assault on the roads be your aim in 2015?

Peter Hickman:
I hope so. I'd like to run a 'Stocker', Superbike and Supersport as well. I haven't really looked too much at it this year but that would be the plan at some point.

Crash.net:
Thanks for your time Peter.

Peter Hickman:
Thanks a lot.

Comments

Loading Comments...