The New Year's off to a flying start with us teaming up with one of the top road racers on the international scene - Silicone Engineering Racing's Dean Harrison. He joins our stellar line-up of world class road racing specialists - Conor Cummins, Lee Johnston, John McGuinness and Guy Martin.
Bradford's Dean Harrison started racing at the age of 18 and over the past eleven years, he's risen to the top of the current crop of "pure" road racers. Immensely talented on two wheels and with a "gritty," enthusiastic personality, he's one of the current 'rock stars' within the present band of top road racing 'brothers.' And Red Torpedo's stoked that he's decided to come on board with us.
CEO of Red Torpedo Bill Gordon said,
"We spoke to Dean at last year's TT about joining us and we're absolutely delighted to now have him on our roster of riders for 2019. He's a great guy and an immensely talented racer whose rise to the top tier has been meteoric."
Deano's Man Cave: Red Torpedo's Bill Gordon & Dean Harrison
Dean Harrison: Road Racer
Racing motorbikes is in Dean Harrison's DNA. His father, Conrad, is a leading sidecar driver and started racing in the early 90s, just after Dean entered the world. Conrad's more than handy at driving a racing chair - racking up ten TT podiums including one win in 2014. Both Dean's grandfathers raced - one on three wheels, the other two. Dean's a grounded, fast talking and totally down-to-earth Yorkshireman. Made from girders. He's got in-depth mechanical knowledge and skills which allows him to keep close tabs on what his team's mechanics are up to. It also lets him provide top feedback to his team in terms of how the bike's behaving and doing - or, more to the point, not doing. He's a straight talker - open and enthusiastic, with a machine gun delivery. Spades are most definitely "shovels" when Dean's in full flow and he's super fast and prodigously talented on a race bike.
Dean started racing circuits in 2007 aged 18 on a CBR600 purchased with an insurance payout he received after being knocked off his VFR400 road bike. He set out racing on closed public roads in 2010 on an R6 Yamaha and ER6 Kawasaki for Irish team McKinstry Racing and when he eventually beat seasoned pro and "roads great" Ryan Farquhar at Scarborough's Oliver's Mount, the touch paper had been lit. People sat up and really took note - it was obvious that big things lay ahead for the precociously talented young Yorkshireman.
RC Express Racing
Dean made his TT debut in 2011 as a privateer. In the following year, he posted a top ten finish in the Superbike race. Half way through 2012, he signed with RC Express Racing and over the course of the next two and a half years riding Kawasakis, achieved multiple wins and PBs. It was to be a real purple patch for both rider and team. He was second in the 2013 Lightweight Isle of Man TT and second in the 2014 Superstock TT behind Michael Dunlop. Later that week, he won his first TT - the Lightweight. He podiumed at the Ulster GP and bagged multiple wins at the Southern 100, and Scarborough's Oliver's Mount - where he has now recorded a total of some 60 race wins and holds the current lap record.
Silicone Engineering Racing
Parting company with RC Express Racing, Harrison was with Tim Martin's Martrain Yamaha Team during the 2015 season but departed quickly at the end of season - on good terms on both sides - signing with Silicone Engineering Racing for 2016. From Martrain's R1 Superbike, it was a welcome return to the ZX10-RR for the Bradford man. He hasn't looked back since and has gone on to achieve even greater success and take his position at the top tier of the sport.
In his first year with the team, he bagged three TT podiums and two top five finishes and multiple wins were racked up at Billown and Scarborough. In 2017 he was 3rd in the NW200 Superstock race, bagged two "big bike" 3rd places at the TT, won the Southern 100 Solo Championship and the Scarborough Gold Cup, which he had also done in 2015 and 2016! At the Ulster GP, he became "the fastest road racer in the world" (at that point in time) posting a 134.614 mph lap at the 7.2 mile Dundrod Circuit. He also became the 'King of the Mount' - the fastest rider around Oliver's Mount setting an outright lap record at the Cock o' the North meeting, then followed that with a new Supersport lap record at the Gold Cup!
The eyes have it: Dean gives the Kwacker some stick
2018 was an outstanding year for Harrison. He opened the season in May with a strong performance at the NW200 with two podium finishes and two fourths. On a sun drenched 'Rock,' he was scorchingly fast throughout TT fortnight largely setting the pace for others to follow. In the Tuesday Superbike practice he posted a 133.462 mph lap from a standing start to become only the second rider (at that point in time) to lap at sub 17 minute pace. It was an astonishing "marker" to lay down and sent a clear message to all other competitors. When interviewed on Manx Radio after the session he said that he... "wasn't even trying." Lordy.
In every race he set blisteringly quick initial laps straight out of the blocks. In Superbike 1 (opening Saturday) he was running away with the race having established a significant lead by obliterating the (then) existing lap record with a new record of 134.432 mph on lap one from a standing start. He was consistently the fastest rider in the first two sectors - Grandstand to Glen Helen and Glen Helen to Ramsey Hairpin. A win looked well on the cards when on lap four, his clutch failed. The race had been snatched from him but it had been an astonishing display of controlled, aggressive road racing. He followed this up with a 2nd in Supersport 1 and 3rd in a hard fought Superstock race.
His first win of the week and second career TT win arrived in the Supersport 2 and was hugely deserved given the consistency of his form.
Mind bending: Dean in the Senior TT - from Kirk Michael to Ballacrye.
The 2018 Senior TT was a riveting encounter between the two front runners - Harrison and Peter Hickman. It was Harrison who, once again, set a blistering pace from the start - and he maintained that throughout the race. Again, he came very close to winning and had he not been badly held up by back markers on the final lap, he might have taken it. But Hickman also encountered his fair share of back markers - especially through Kirk Michael - so they both had to deal with the issue. Harrison again was faster through the first two sectors but Hickman was unbelievably fast on the mountain section - riding it like a short circuit. Harrison actually set a new lap record on the final lap of 134.918 mph - but when Hickman crossed the line shortly after, (given his start position on the road) his 135.452 mph lap sealed the win by 2.061 seconds and he took his place in the history books.
Dean had been consistently super quick for the whole fortnight and apart from Peter Hickman, he's now the only rider to have lapped the Isle of Man at over 134 mph. What had made him so fast over the fortnight? Basically, it had all been down to a trick, full specification Superbike, a great team that had some money to spend on the required performance parts and the time he spent riding in British Superbike which he said had helped him hugely. It had been the first year that he had access to a full specification, full blown Superbike as opposed to a Superstock machine. In August 2018 Harrison won the Superbike Classic TT on a ZXR 750 Kawasaki in a start to finish race. It was his fourth Classic TT win.
The 2019 Season
This will be Dean's fourth year with Silicone Engineering Racing and there's early indication that it could be his best yet. The team should receive access to the most up-to-date specification engines and will, of course, be using the new ZX-10RR Ninja with titanium conrods and an additional 600 rpm on tap. Dean will also be riding in as many rounds of BSB as he can alongside a full roads schedule.
We look forward to a great year ahead with Dean and wish him and Silicone Engineering Racing all the best for the season.
Photography: Peter Faragher (www.wpfotos.co.uk)