GREATEST TT TEAMS: SILICONE ENGINEERING
Over the next three weeks, we’ll be taking a tour of the TT Paddock for an in-depth look at some of the Greatest TT Teams of the Modern Era. Part One puts the spotlight on the reigning Senior TT Champions - Silicone Engineering.
A relatively new outfit on the TT scene, Silicone Engineering Racing’s involvement in two-wheel competition began in 2007 as a Supermoto team. Highly successful, the team claimed the World Championship in 2013 with Finnish rider Mauno Hermunen and multiple British Championship titles with Christian Iddon, who has since gone on to be a frontrunner in the British Superbike Championship.
The team moved into road racing in the early 2010s, supporting the established Sidecar pairing of John Holden and Andy Winkle from 2012. They then began contesting the solo classes with Russell Mountford, securing eight top 20 finishes in the 2014 and 2015 TT Races onboard Triumph Supersport and Kawasaki Superbike machinery.
2014: Silicone Engineering's first contested the solo TT Races with Russ Mountford
During the same period, the team expanded their backroom staff to include former World Superbike and Grand Prix racer Paul Iddon as Team Manager, before signing Dean Harrison for the 2016 season.
Harrison joined the team after a disappointing 2015 season with the Mar-Train Racing team and a new and unproven Yamaha R1. However, it was a small blip for one of road racing’s most promising young talents who, since making his TT debut in 2011, had already taken eleven top 10 finishes including victory in the 2014 Lightweight Race.
Securing a leading rider was the final piece of the jigsaw for Silicone Engineering and, in Harrison, the Lancashire-based team had a rising star who was a perfect fit for their long-term ambitions.
2016: Dean Harrison joins the team and delivers immediate results
Reunited with Kawasaki machinery that he had performed remarkably on for the RC Express Racing team in 2013 and 2014, Harrison immediately delivered results with podium finishes in the Supersport and Superstock Races and top 5 finishes in the Superbike and Senior encounters at TT 2016.
Maiden podiums in the 2017 Superbike and Senior Races were signs of further progression for Harrison and the Silicone Engineering Team, and while the headlines that year were made by the continuing rivalry and dramatic racing between Michael Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson, a final lap in the Senior Race at an average speed of 132.019mph firmly put Harrison and the team amongst the TT A-List.
2017: Further progress, with podiums in the Superbike and Senior Races
At the conclusion of that year’s road racing season, the team opted for a change in approach to their TT preparations by contesting the British Superbike Championship. Entering the final rounds of the 2017 championship as well as the opening rounds of 2018’s, Harrison used the World’s most competitive domestic championship as a venue to sharpen his skills and hone his talent. He arrived at the 2018 Isle of Man TT Races well and truly on the front foot, setting a blistering pace throughout qualifying week that went unmatched into the opening races.
Harrison set off at a staggering pace in the opening 6-lap RST Superbike Race, setting a new outright lap record of 134.432mph from a standing start and he looked comfortable for the race win, managing a 12-second lead over Michael Dunlop before he was cruelly forced to retire with a mechanical issue on the fourth lap of the race.
Nevertheless, podium finishes immediately followed with second and third place finishes in the Monster Energy Supersport Race and the RL360 Superstock encounter respectively. Harrison then went on to take his second career TT win in Supersport Race 2, thus giving the Silicone Engineering team their first solo TT victory. But the spectacular 2018 Isle of Man TT Races were not finished there. In one of the TT's greatest ever races, Harrison went toe-to-toe with Peter Hickman in a thrilling Senior TT where, despite setting a lap of 134.918mph, he missed out on victory by just two seconds.
2018: A first victory for the team in Supersport Race 2
Undeterred by the narrowest of losses and with the added motivation of being promoted to Official Kawasaki Road Racing Team, the outfit continued their proven preparation on the short circuits of the British Superbike Championship in the hope of going one better in 2019.
Harrison took second-place finishes in the Superbike, Superstock and second Supersport Races of TT 2019 but saved the best until last, as he and the team fulfilled their racing ambition to take victory in the blue-riband Senior TT – the first Senior TT win for Kawasaki since Mick Grant in 1975.
Led by team owner Clarissa Beadman, the Silicone Engineering Racing team have been steadfast in their desire to reach the top step of the TT podium and it’s no coincidence that a consistent package of rider, team personnel and machinery, combined with a strategic approach to the TT Races, has resulted in a rapid rise to the top of the leaderboard.
While many teams and riders only begin their TT preparations in February and March’s pre-season testing, the Silicone Engineering Racing team’s season begins in August with the final rounds of the British Superbike Championship. Alongside Peter Hickman and the Smiths Racing team, a year-round approach to racing has been key to their improved performance, and it’s an approach that rivals recognise they need to take in order to step up to the new level of competition set by Harrison and Hickman.
2019: Senior TT glory
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