Ten minutes with... 2011 BSB champ Tommy Hill

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After calling it a day on the ePayMe Yamaha team at the end of the 2016 season, 2011 MCE British Superbike Champion Tommy Hill hadn’t been back to a race paddock until last weekend at Brands.

We caught up with him to see what he’s been up to and what his plans are for the future.

What are you up to now?

These days I’m making stickers and designing logos! I’m still involved in the industry as a lot of what I’m doing is for teams and riders. I’d say 90% of my work is for bikes. 

I’ve come to Brands to see the EHA Yamaha/Aprilia team as they’ve potentially got a few ideas for next year, but I do all their graphics anyway so I was always going to pop in and see how it’s going as I haven’t been to a race event since Brands last year which was my last event with the team.

It’s quite nice being able to enjoy myself without the added stress of running a team! 

It wasn’t the plan to stop running the team though, was it?

No, it wasn’t the plan. The whole plan was to continue ePayMe Yamaha into the second year. You’d be a fool to set up a team for one year as the amount of infrastructure and effort that goes in is incredible.


I was gutted. We had talks with a few sponsors but nothing ever materialised. I couldn’t offer them the space they wanted for the amount of investment they wanted to put in. We could easily take less money but then it’s detrimental to the team and what I didn’t want to do was get to the end of the year and not be able to pay people. 

Whenever I was thinking about setting up a team I wanted to get the right budget and do it right. 

You must have learned quite a bit in your tenure as a team boss? 

You do and you have to forget about the bad times. As a bike racer I’ve been through a load of hellish injuries, but you have to forget about them and it’s the same with the race team, that’s also full of ups and downs. It is a business you’re running, but it’s a slightly different situation as you’re dependent on sponsorship.

It’s difficult. I’ve learned a lot but we’ve always run a family business. My Dad was 14 when he started his building business and I’ve always been around that, had a high work ethic and I don’t stop until it’s done but there’s nothing more I could have done to continue the team this year. 

I worked for three months over the winter, paying some debts off and trying to get us out of the hole but it wasn’t meant to be. 

Has it been good to have the time off?

Yeah. We’ve had another baby. I’ll always be someone who wants to work my tits off whatever I do, I’ve been pushing really hard with the design business and I’ve been very busy. It’s nice to still be involved in bikes, designing liveries and logos but I’m also starting to branch out and that’s what I need to do.

Coming to Brands after the time off, it’s nice to say hello to everyone. I’ve been around this paddock since I was 14 years old and I’m now 32. It’s been a major part of my life so it’s nice to see everyone.

Are you considering a comeback?

I don’t know is the answer to that. I enjoyed the good times and I enjoyed working in the garage with the guys and the crew chiefs, trying to get the best out of the whole team. I get a real buzz from doing that and love the branding and marketing side too. Times are tough, but racing still goes on. It’s nice to be back this weekend to get a bit of an insight into the EHA team and I’m really enjoying it.

Did you retire from racing too early? 

Everyone says that! Even going back last year people were still asking me why I stopped so early. Even leading riders ask me if I get the urge to come back. Some days I miss riding, but I think my life is still quite busy as it is and that’s because I make it that way.

I’ll always be busy and if I wasn’t that’s when we’d have an issue. An ex-rider who isn’t busy just thinks about racing! All my life has been hectic and always in the fast lane, so some days I miss it but I haven’t ridden a bike now for two and a half years. 

The interesting thing is as I watch it looks faster! It’s not, but as I don’t ride now it just seems it. It’s amazing what you can see. Spotting seems to be the in thing at the moment, and the first year I stopped, I came to Brands, had a walk around and it’s amazing what you can see if you know what you’re looking at.

You don’t regret it then?

Definitely not. People need to understand that for any sportsman to stop on a high is difficult. You always wonder what if. I left racing on a high, won loads of races that year and nearly the championship again but I just needed a break. I’ve been around motorbikes all of my life, but I had something else in my design business so I knew I had something to fall back on.

If I have to be back on a building site, I’ll go do it. If I didn’t have things to do I’d definitely be thinking about getting back on a bike again. 

And of course, you were involved in one of the greatest BSB races of all time?

That was an amazing day, it’s still a bit of a blur! We were two guys who had been through a lot of ups and downs in our careers. Obviously Hopper has had his issues, as have I, so to win the championship made it all worth it.

To go down to the wire with one of the best races in history was brilliant. We’re still waiting for the day where it happens again! 

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Oli Rushby

By Oli Rushby

Former sports reporter covering British Superbikes, World Superbikes and road racing