Rider Interview – Richie Harrison.

Richie Harrison has been racing for over twenty years on various machines and having joined forces with Alan Edwards on the RAP Racing / P&C Pavers Yamaha he went agonisingly close to winning the Golden Era Supersport title in 2017 and again finished 2nd in the same class a year later. Having ‘retired’ for all of two weeks at the end of the 2018 season Richie then took up the role of Motorsport lecturer at Myerscough College and that presented him with the chance to ride 2 different bikes that were built and prepared by the college students in their state-of-the-art workshops and race them with the Preston and District Motorcycle Club before once again being lured back to the Thundersport paddock for 2020 where he and Alan would be teaming up to race a Kawasaki ZX10R superbike in the GP1 Elite class.

Originally born, bred and buttered in Darlington he now resides with his family, other half Carol and 2yr old daughter Iona, in Fleetwood.

Q1 – Race number? Number 4 for the last couple of years but also have had many years with #48 in various championships.

Q2 – Club / Championship? 2020 Thundersport GB.

Trying to distract Richie and make off with a trophy at the end of a very successful first round at Donington in 2017, the first time a rider had raced with one of my decals.

Q3 – Class / Classes? GP1 Elites onboard the RAP Racing Kawasaki ZX10R Superbike.

Q4 – Debut? I started schoolboy motocross in 1993. I was an ok club rider but was never going to win at it as I wasn’t as brave some may say over the jumps as you needed to be…….. I sold the 1991 Honda CR125 in 1996 and purchased a Yamaha TZR125. Had first race in October of 1996 at Mallory Park within the last round of the EMRA F125cc series and finished 3rd (Of 3!!!).

Q5 – Honours / Titles? 1997 EMRA Superteens – 3rd, Auto66 Club Production 125cc – 3rd, NEMCRC F125cc – 2nd.

1998 – NEMCRC CB500 Champion.

1999 – NEMCRC CB500 – 2nd.

2001 – New Era Superclub Honda CB500 Champion, 2001 Auto66 Club F500 Champion, 2001 Auto66 Club Sound of Thunder Champion.

2010 – Thundersport GB Streetfighter B Series – 3rd.

2017 – Thundersport GB Golder Era Supersport – 2nd.

2018 – Thundersport GB Golden Era Supersport – 2nd.

Richie in action at Donington in 2017 where he took two wins and two 2nds at RD1.

Q6 – Favourite Circuit and Favourite Corner? Donington Park full circuit as this was where my great grandad used to sneak into back in the day to watch the cars and bikes. I often wonder when I am there if he would ever have imagined his great grandsons racing round there in the future and I just love the run from Hollywood down Craners and all the way up to Coppice, you know when you’re getting it right!!!

Q7 – Boyhood heroes? First one’s easy, my Dad! I was the kid in the race paddocks in the late 70’s being pushed around in the buggy (Christ, nearly gave my age away then!!) while Dad raced the Suzuki 250 and the Yamaha TD28 before finally getting a good bike in the Yamaha 250LC, he used to compete and win within the Auto66 Club and Eboracum and NEMCRC series in the early 80’s before finishing up ready for us to start years later. Then it has to be Kevin Schwantz for utter dogged determination and showmanship and Joey Dunlop, I remember watching Joey at the age of 10, stood in the rain at Governors Bridge making it seem so smooth and effortless.

Q8 – Toughest rival? Easy one this, my younger brother Jonathan! The first person you have to beat is your team mate and for years he was always there, some days I would have the upper hand and other days he would. I’ve never seen someone so gifted make it look like he wasn’t trying. Jonathan can ride anything and be fast! From a 125cc to a CB500, from a Supersport 600 to a Superstock bike, he raced a Buell and was the first person outside America to win on one. He raced a Harley XR1200 in the BSB support series and if you look back at history he was the last person to win a 500cc race at Donington Park within the MotoGP in 2009! Currently holds the Oulton Park Golden Era Steelsport Lap Record after a one-off ride on a mates bike in 2017 and after 16mths of not racing! How many can turn up and do that on a bike you’ve not ridden before?

Q9 – If I could swap places with any other rider? Marquez just to see how he does it!

Q10 – Biggest accident? 2005 during qualifying for the National Superstock Championship, I had the rider in front move over going into Paddock Hill Bend (Before brake guards were compulsory) and put the front brake on at 145MPH! I ended up over the tyre wall with an open book fracture of the Pelvis front and back, fractured Hip, broken Sternum and bruised Lungs. Airlifted to hospital, transfused 5 pints of claret, got MRSA whilst there, remained hospitalised for seven and a half weeks, 18mths recovery before I was back to work fully as a PE teacher. I also had another big one at Anglesey in 2014 when I high-sided at Church corner and broke my Femur and Hip, that’s been screwed together and is still in there! It’s all part of the game though, you wouldn’t take up boxing if you didn’t want to be smacked round the head would ya?

Q11 – Biggest influence on your career so far? Carol (my long suffering other half a.k.a as ‘the bank manager’, Iona (the very best trophy gives you a hug!) My Mam, Dad and baby bro. They have always been there and supported me through whatever, even when the choices I make are very selfish to continue to have this passion to race.

Q12 – Rossi or Marquez? Rossi.

Q12a – If I wasn’t racing I would be? Grumpy! Probably one of the seven dwarfs!

Q14 – Nickname? Richie, sometimes ‘Fast Richie’ depending on who you’re talking to!

Richie enjoying his first time out of the Kawasaki ZX10R at a bitterly cold Oulton Park in February.

Q15 – If money were no object I would? Race with my own team and ride bikes daily!

Q16 – Brown or Red sauce, Coke or Pepsi? Red sauce and Pepsi Max.

Q17 – If I could be one person for one day I would be? Mike Hailwood in 1978 making his comeback, that would have been cool to see! Oh, wait, I did just can’t remember it!

Q18 – Cost to race per season? Hell fire I’m not tallying that up it would be frightening!

Q19 – Dream bike? I have many, too many and I can’t decide on just one! Schwantz Pepsi Suzuki 500 that was pretty cool and Foggy’s 916.

Q20 – Training regime (Gym rat or bike fit)? I aim to be bike fit, do a bit of cycling when the family time allows, use the gym but I do get bored of it, I much prefer to be out and about in the fresh air.

Q21 – Dogs or Cats? Easy one Dog, my Staffordshire Bull Terrier Jodi was my walking partner from the age of 8 weeks old until she passed 13 years later last year. Miss her every day.

Q22 – From March to October I can be found doing? Waiting and waiting and waiting to ride a bike!!

Getting all the horses out of the little Myerscough College Streetstock bike at Three Sisters in 2019.

Q23 – Dry track, wet track or not fussed? Dry track but not fussed really, it’s the same conditions for everyone to master.

Q24 – Best ever race? 2017 Thundersport GB Golden Era Supersport at Snetterton – first race win and Anglesey Sunday races were pretty dominant! Loved the Wirral 100 at Oulton Park too in 2018 where we set pole in 2 classes, set fastest laps in both and won all 4 races, definitely a day to remember for me and RAP Racing.

Ready for a clean sweep at Oulton Park at the Wirral 100 meeting in 2018.

Q25 – Special thanks to? Everyone, whether they be current or past sponsors and associates over the years and anyone I’ve raced against. I hope I’ve always given an honest account of myself and that I have made you work hard for it. I also hope I have never been known as one of the wankers in the paddock.

Huge thanks to Alan Edwards and the whole of the RAP Racing family of sponsors, friends and supporters for the unwavering support of us and a special mention also to Chris Blench and family for their dedication to jumping in and helping out at race weekends too and for making the job look pretty with decals and logo’s. Huge thanks to Myerscough College for supporting our endeavours and for keeping me in the lifestyle I have become accustomed to, hopefully more of the same once the lockdown lifts for us all. Hopefully see you all trackside soon supporting the RAP Racing efforts as we embark on the superbike chapter! As for me it’s more cycling planned to ensure I am ready to go when the nod comes.

Cheers, Richie #4.

And that is the end of this run of rider interviews, I have really enjoyed putting these together and hope you’ve enjoyed a little insight into the life of a racer. With the possibility of racing permits being granted from July 4th the likelihood of racing finally getting underway in 2020 may at least become a little clearer for clubs, riders, spectators and everyone else involved in bringing the greatest show on earth to life.