They say a happy rider is a fast rider and Bradford’s Dean Harrison hopes to underline that mantra in 2016 as he looks ahead to the start of the major international road races at next month’s Vauxhall North West 200.
Harrison is reunited with Kawasaki machinery this season after an up and down year in 2015 when he rode for Ulster’s Mar-Train Yamaha team.
The 26-year-old won the prestigious Gold Cup at Scarborough last September on the YZF-R1 but that was his biggest highlight of a season that had promised much more.
He opted not to take up the second year of his contract with the team, parting company from the Lisburn-based outfit on amicable terms and later signing for Silicone Engineering Racing to switch back to the Kawasaki ZX-10R that had previously served him so well when he rode in the RC Express livery.
Harrison started the season with victories in the Superbike and Supersport classes at last Sunday’s Spring Cup meeting at Oliver’s Mount, which was overshadowed by the tragic death of up and coming prospect Billy Redmayne.
Harrison said: “I am happier now than I’ve been for years and I’m back on a Kawasaki which makes me feel much more confident.
“It’s not head and shoulders above the previous model but they have refined it in every way. I want to see some chequered flags this year.
“I am with these boys at Silicone for two years and everything is going 100 per-cent so far. Now I want to see some progress,” he added.
Looking ahead to the North West from May 10-14, Harrison admits he has never enjoyed much luck around the 8.9-mile Triangle course, but he hopes he is due a change of fortune on the north coast next month.
“I have never finished a race at the North West but I am aiming to change that this year,” Harrison said.
“I want to go there and get loads of solid finishes – I don’t want to go and break down or not finish. I want to get there and crack on with it. I want the bikes to be good and just keep going and going and going.
“If I could get on a podium I’d be over the moon. That’s what I’m aiming for, that’s the plan. Or at least somewhere near.”
Harrison was involved in the serious crash in last year’s NW200 Superstock race that left spectator Violet McAfee badly injured and ended Crumlin man Stephen Thompson’s career, who later had part of his left arm amputated.
“Last year I fell off a couple of times and still to this day I don’t know what happened,” said Harrison.
“That was the most frustrating thing – that’s what I didn’t like about the bike, it was unpredictable.”