Dean Harrison, the mechanic turned racer, is without doubt one of the biggest draws on the road racing scene. He commands an enviable pedigree: multiple Gold Cup and Spring Cup triumphs to his name, as well as numerous podium finishes at the North West 200 and the Ulster Grand Prix.
Harrison achieved his second victory at the Isle of Man TT last year, although reliability issues with his Kawasaki machine in the first half of race week hampered what should have been a truly golden fortnight for the Bradford man.
It was unsurprising, and fully deserved, that he received one of the loudest receptions as he made his way onto the stage at the official TT launch night, in Douglas. Grilled by TV presenter Matt Roberts and former racer Steve Plater, Harrison was eager to keep the conversation to the here and now:
“I feel a lot more up for this year than I’ve ever been before. The new bike is definitely better through the rev range than the old bike. Looks more reliable too judging by the lads in World Superbikes. Obviously it’s completely different around the TT course, but we know already we can go faster than last year.
2018 was undoubtedly the big breakthrough year for Harrison, as he joined the elite of road racing, notching up his first TT victory on a ‘big bike’ in the second Supersport race. The Yorkshireman was quick to pay tribute two his team on two fronts. The first being the bikes that had been prepared to close perfection. The second being to acknowledge the decision from the team to commit to a full season of racing in BSB:
“Joining BSB full time has made me a much sharper rider. You’ve got to be on the case first session on Friday until chequered flag falls Sunday night. I’ve become a much stronger rider because of doing all the short circuit stuff.”
There is no denying that competing in BSB has made him a more complete rider. Harrison has always had raw pace on the roads, but the fierce close quarter nature of short circuit racing has honed his race craft. From cornering speeds to tyre conservation, Harrison is now arguably the most improved racer on the planet.
Whilst 2018 was hailed as an excellent year by his team (Silicone Engineering Kawasaki), Harrison is adamant there is still more improvement to come. The memory of Senior TT last year where, despite leading for 5 and a half laps, he was pipped to the post in the final few miles by Peter Hickman, is a clear source of motivation:
“The only reason why I lost that race last year is because I wasn’t fast enough. No excuses. We did everything we could – I went through six throttle grips last year, so you can’t say I wasn’t trying! This year we’re back to put the record straight. Silicone Engineering Kawasaki have worked so hard on the bike over the winter. We’ve been out testing and everything feels better than at the same point last year.”
Brutally honest and straight talking in his assessment, Harrison is determined to make the 2019 Isle of Man TT his own.