Skip to content

Grid Talk – Peter Hickman | Columns | Gassit Garage

Peter Hickman is the world’s fastest road racer, a new breed of rider who’s mixing short circuits and open roads with much success

Where did you find that explosive pace that gave you the 2018 IoM Senior win and title of world’s fastest road racer?

Good weather for the whole two weeks of practice and racing. You have 260 corners at the TT, and if you do an hour of practice that’s just three laps and only three times around each corner. The more laps you do, the more chance you’ve got of trying something different or understanding that corner better.

What’s your approach as a short-circuit rider coming to the TT?

On a short circuit you spend all your time riding on the edge of crashing, because if you don’t you’ve got four or five people coming up the inside of you. You can ride hard at the TT, but you can’t ride like that.

Do you feel you benefitted from riding the same bike (Smith’s BMW) for the past two seasons?

You know where you are before you start when the bike is basically the same as it was last year. There were a few little tweaks we learned from BSB that we brought to the TT, but in general the Superbike was the same. From the first lap I did of practice until the last lap of the Senior race, we never touched the suspension. Not one change in two weeks, because it worked from the off and I just left it alone.

You did a 134.403mph final lap on a stock-engined BMW S 1000 RR with treaded tyres, and a new outright lap record of 135.452mph on a Superbike-spec S 1000 RR running slick tyres. Explain the difference.

I get asked a lot why the Superbike costs £60-70,000 more when it only laps one mph faster, but one mph is almost 10 seconds, which is quite a lot. The main difference is that the Superstock bike is easier to ride. It’s a lot tamer, but it’s still fast, doing 192mph. Regardless of where you are with the settings, you end up being fast on it. The Superbike needs to be bang-on. If you are even a little bit out with the settings you may as well forget it because you will be miles off the pace.

Peter Hickman (Smith’s BMW) at the top of Barregarrow during this evening’s practice session at the Isle of Man TT.
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

What’s your take on Michael Dunlop’s (by his standards) disappointing TT this year?

Michael has done 133.9mph previously, so he has the pace, but maybe he was on his limit, or on the limit of the bike. Or maybe he just wasn’t feeling it. If things don’t feel right then you cannot push through it. There is always next year.

Peter Hickman (Smith’s BMW) celebrates winning the Senior TT today.
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

You readily admit you are slower over the opening sectors, feeling your way into a lap, but you dominate the Mountain section.

Maybe the more open landscape of the Mountain favours me as a short-circuit rider. My favourite part is the 32nd, the triple-apex run down to Windy corner. But I had a big moment at the 33rd two years ago when I almost tucked the front. That is the closest I’ve come to crashing at the TT. I was flat-out in top and had saved it, and was through the corner before I really realised it had happened.

You’ve been confronted with the terrible price others have paid at the TT.

Losing Dan didn’t affect me at all. That might sound a bit harsh, but we all know what we are doing and know the risks. Unfortunately these things happen. We carry on riding in their name. Maybe I will look at it differently when I’m a bit older, but for now racing is life, but accelerated. 

Peter Hickman (Smith’s BMW) celebrates winning the Senior TT today.
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON