Cumbrian rider Dan Stewart will again spearhead the Wilcock Consulting campaign at the 2012 Isle of Man TT races, fuelled by Monster Energy.
The Barrow in Furness rider has enjoyed the support of Graham Wilcock for eight years and having firmly established himself as the leading privateer around the Mountain Course in recent years, is looking to further improve in June.
Stewart will have three machines at his disposal as he looks to improve upon the 6th place finishes he achieved in the 2009 and 2010 Senior TT races and 2011 Dainese Superbike race. He will campaign on the ex-Chris Walker World Superbike Honda machine for a third successive year but will also race a Honda in the Superstock class, rather than the BMW he has raced for the last two years, having tied up a deal with Padgetts, who will also be providing technical assistance.
The ex-Steve Plater British Supersport 600cc Championship winning machine has also been given a major overhaul over the winter in the hope of providing further strong results in the two Monster Energy Supersport races.
Stewart made his debut on the Mountain Course back in the Manx Grand Prix of 2000 when he finished third in the Newcomers race and has since gone on to rack up a long list of impressive performances. As well as his three sixth placed results, the 36-year old has recorded ten additional top ten finishesand has 23 replicas - 14 Silver and 9 Bronze. His fastest lap - 128.788mph - makes him the 13th fastest rider ever to have lapped the 37 and ¾-mile circuit.
A test programme is expected to include a few early-season Nationals during March and Dan will also contest a full season of the Metzeler National Superstock 1000cc Championship as well as contesting the Ulster Grand Prix. A return to the North West 200 is also a possibility.
Speaking about the season ahead, Stewart said: “I’m really looking forward to the new season and it’s nice to have the continuity of being with the same team and set-up.
"This will be my ninth year with Graham and it continues to work really well so we’ll all be looking for some strong results during the course of the year particularly on the Island. The Superbike has worked really well in the past so we haven’t had to do too much work, just giving the engine a freshening up, whilst we’ve also switched to Showa suspension.
"We’ve decided to go with a Honda for the Superstock class too as the BMW didn’t work as well as we all thought so we’ve secured a good deal with Clive Padgett who’ll give us technical support and advice during the year.”
He continued: “The bikes will be capable of getting onto the podium and with a bit of luck I don’t think it’s out of the question. I’d like to at least improve on my 6th place finish of the last three years and also crack the 130mph barrier for the first time. If I could do that and get amongst the top 10 fastest riders of all time, I’ll be happy.
"The major work over the winter has gone on the 600 as it’s been disappointing over the last couple of seasons and hasn’t performed as it should.
"Frank Wrathall’s built us a new engine and a lot of work has been done to the cylinder head so although my height and weight can go against me in the class, we’ll be looking to get back inside the top ten in the two Supersport races as well.
Paul Phillips, TT and Motorsport Manager, Isle of Man Government, commented:
“Dan has been one of the TT’s most consistent performers in recent years and will, I’m sure, be challenging for a top five place in all his races.
"He’s definitely one to watch this year, particularly given the improvements he’s made to his bikes in the off-season.”