From battered to brilliant – RAF Reserves’ Peter Hickman ready to roar as the British Superbike Championship arrives at Snetterton
- Credit: Archant
Few will arrive at Snetterton ahead of this weekend, smiling as broadly as Peter Hickman.
Round four of the British Superbike Championship started with Friday morning's opening free practice session, kicking off one of the marquee dates in the circuit's calendar.
And for Hickman, there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful.
It starts with the fact he will race for Marham's RAF Reserves led by Lee Hardy Racing in their home race.
But it's underlined by the fact the 28-year-old arrives back in Norfolk having just become the eighth fastest man ever to complete a lap of the Isle of Man TT.
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That was earlier this month, having been the fastest newcomer at the race in 107 years just 12 months previous.
'The TT was mega for me,' said Hickman. 'The whole two weeks went really well. I didn't miss a beat, – both bikes, the Lee Hardy Racing team worked really well and the sponsors were really happy.
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'It lived up to everything that I wanted it to be. The TT is something so special and unique, and I had a really good two weeks. To become the eighth fastest rider ever around the place and in only my second year was absolutely fantastic.'
Not only was it a stunning piece of riding from a clearly talented racer – it was remarkable given how Hickman's last round of the BSB Championship played out, at Oulton Park at the start of May.
'It's a big confidence boost heading into Snetterton because unfortunately the last time I was riding a superbike,' said Hickman. 'I broke a couple of bones – so hopefully this time I can not do that! But also, do a lot better.'
And yes, Hickman is underplaying it when he says a couple of bones.
'In the last race weekend at Oulton Park we just had a really strange, unfortunate crash in the wet,' he added. 'I actually fell OK but I collected the bike, the bike hit the wall and then bounced back out and I hit the bike. So unfortunately I broke my back in three places, broke my neck, two ribs and a punctured lung.
'The season has been a bit upside down. We started with a brand new bike and did zero testing, so we were expecting a steady start – and in round one we were fourth and fifth, which was a bit of a surprise to us.
'We took a bit of a backwards step at Brands Hatch and then at Oulton Park we had a test day and were back on form, 0.4-seconds off the lap record. Then that crash unfortunately ruled me out of the event and because of that, we slipped right down the order. But fingers crossed we can turn that around here.
'I want to be inside the top six in the championship at the end of the season and to be quite honest, that's what I want from the races as well.
'I've got to recalibrate my brain a little from the Isle of Man back to the short circuits. It's a different style of racing. It'll take a day or two to figure that out, but I want a strong top-six result at Snetterton.'
No doubt that would appease their home fans too.
'You absolutely sense what it means for the team, and I'm only a couple of hours down the road in Louth so I'm nearly local,' Hickman smiled. 'There will be a lot of fans and people who know the team and sponsors. It's a fantastic event for us and I'm really looking forward to it.
'Hopefully I can give them something to cheer for.'
• Follow Michael Bailey on Twitter @michaeljbailey