Peter Hickman is the latest recruit to the Vauxhall International North West 200 from the MCE British Superbike championship paddock.
Following in the wheeltracks of superstars like Michael Rutter, Stuart Easton and Josh Brookes, the 26 year old will make his road racing debut at Portstewart on May 17.
Hickman, who raced for the GBmoto Honda squad in BSB in 2013, will ride in both the Superstock and Superbike classes on S1000RR BMWs in the Ice Valley/Motorsave colours.
“The North West will be my first ever road race.” Hickman smiles as he explained his decision to enter the North West.
“I have always been interested in the roads and I thought that this was the right time in my career to give it a go. I have a lot of experience and I am mature enough now as a rider.”
Hickman has been part of the British short circuit scene since 2004 when he won the National Superstock Cup championship on a ZX10 Hawk Kawasaki. By 2006 he had moved on to the BSB grid, where he had his best year in 2011 with a ninth place finish in the title race. But 2014 will see the Louth man take a major change of direction in his racing.
“I don’t have a BSB ride for this season at the moment.” he explained. “As it stands, the only racing that I am doing in 2014 will be on the roads.”
Hickman will also make his debut at the TT after the North West.
“I think that the North West and the TT go hand in hand, you can’t really do one without doing the other.” he says.
“I talked to a few teams before I joined Paul Shoesmith’s Ice Valley squad and they all wanted me to do both events.”
Hickman intends to benefit from the huge experience that riders like Shoesmith and his new Ice Valley/Motorsave teammate, Simon Andrews, have on the roads.
“Paul runs a great set-up and it is perfect for me to work with someone like him who can be of help right from the start.” he points out.
“I am also good friends with Michael Rutter and I will be bending his ear trying to get some information on the NW course. I’ve watched the onboards and I can see that North West starts are a lot scarier than BSB but I won’t be pushing too hard. I will take it as it comes, although that is not to say that I want to finish in 20th place. Its just that I wont be making any rash moves.”
One man who will be bending Peter’s ear with some sage advice on how to ride the roads will be his Dad, David.
“He won a Manx Grand Prix way back in 1977 and he has done the North West as well. “ Peter explains.
“Dad worked as a mechanic with Robert Dunlop during his days on a Norton and he also spannered for Phillip McCallen in the Castrol Honda team too.”
Like any newcomer to the North West, Hickman admits that he will be nervous on his first laps of the high speed sections of the 8.9 mile Triangle course.
“I am more excited than nervous though.” he smiles.
“I am looking forward to going flat out for long periods of time, which is something that I have never experienced before. The run down to Metropole looks mega and passing lampposts at 200mph will be a bit different for me!”