Exclusive interview: Hickman takes aim at supersport TT glory with Triumph
Senior winner and TT lap record holder, Peter Hickman, now has his sights set on Supersport glory after gaining support from the Triumph factory in Hinckley for his 2019 bid.
And the 32-year-old, who finished on the podium in the last four Supersport TTs aboard the Trooper Beer/Smith’s Racing Triumph 675 Daytona, thinks a 130mph lap could now be on the cards in the Supersport class, too.
Speaking exclusively to MCN at the British manufacturer’s Hinckley factory last week where Triumph unveiled their support for his 2019 campaign, Hickman said: "We’ve had two really good years on the Triumph but need that little bit more to win the TT. The bike I raced last year was five-years-old even though it had been fitted with new parts," explained the BSB star. "It was just tired."
Now Triumph are providing Hickman with two new 675cc Daytona triples for this year’s NW200, TT and Ulster Grand Prix road races.
Hickman said: "Myself and the team approached Triumph because we have to push on if we want to win. Now we will have everything new for 2019 from engines to ECUs and wiring looms."
Triumph have not built any of 675cc Daytona triples for the British market since 2016 but managed to source two new bikes from the USA.
"We have found a couple of bikes in America that had been retained as stock by Triumph and we are making this happen for the fastest man on the Island," explained Paul Lilly, Triumph’s UK and Ireland General Manager. "One of the new Daytonas will be Peter’s 2019 race bike and the other one will be used for spares."
A winning history
Triumph is also supporting two-time Supersport winner Gary Johnson with the 675 Triumphs he will run on the roads under the RAF Reserves banner.
Smith’s Racing squad have a long and successful association with the British factory including taking a Supersport TT win with Johnson in 2014.
There are also some major changes planned for Hickman’s Triumph including a switch from K-Tech to Öhlins suspension and an Akrapovic exhaust replacing the Arrow unit.
Despite not yet winning a Supersport TT, three wins at the Ulster Grand Prix plus a brace of runner-up places in 2018 behind Michael Dunlop and Dean Harrison prove Hickman isn’t far away despite his limited experience on the smaller machinery.
"Before I raced in the 2015 Supersport TT I’d only ridden a 600 once before back in 2003," he said. "I’m not a natural 600cc rider. I’m probably slightly big for the smaller bikes and it requires a different style. It takes me a while to get going. But Michael and Dean push each other and that drags me along."
Being ‘dragged along’ produced a fastest lap at over 128.181mph for Hickman in last year’s Supersport TT and he feels that better preparation would help him get up to speed much quicker, something he intends to address over the next few weeks.
"Each year I arrive at the North West 200 not having ridden the Supersport bike since last year’s Ulster Grand Prix so I want to get in some testing on the Triumph before the North West this year," he said.
Back in 2013 Dunlop claimed a 130mph Supersport lap was possible and the Ballymoney man took a huge step in that direction with a new 129.197mph record on his way to victory during the opening 600cc race last June.
Hickman agrees the 130mph lap is now within sight and wants to be the first man to break through the barrier to add to his already impressive list of TT firsts.
"130 can’t be far away now and it would be cool to be the first person to do it," added Hickman. "I’ve been the fastest newcomer at the TT and I’ve got the fastest ever TT lap, the Superstock and Senior lap records plus the quickest laps on a Triumph and an MV," he smiled.
"It would be really cool to do a 130mph lap and get the Supersport record, too!"
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