East Antrim’s Jamie Hamilton has his eyes fully focused on the forthcoming Isle of Man TT races, with the view of taking his first rostrum - if not the win - in the lightweight Supertwins race on the Cookstown BE Racing Kawasaki.
Coming on the back of two rostrums in the same class at the Vauxhall International North West 200, who would back against him succeeding?
Hamilton travels to this year’s TT full of confidence and he wants to make the podium for the first time.
The 24-year-old is a superb Supertwin rider and he has proved that many times, but to get to the top step at the TT will be tough - and he knows it.
“I want to win for sure, but at least take a podium,” said the Ballyclare rider.
“I know it is a big ask, but I also know that we are more than capable of being there at least on the Supertwin.
“For sure, it’s not going to be easy as there are a lot of fast riders at the TT, but I would say they are as worried about us as we are about them.”
Apart from the Supertwin, he will ride the Cookstown BE Racing Supersport Honda and Suzuki Superbike. Both the Supersport and Superbike races are the most competitive in the TT programme, so what are his expectations in these?
“As for the Supersport and the big bike, things have been going really well on the two of them but I would be stupid if I thought I was going to be on the podium at the TT on one of those bikes.
“What I have to do is to look at improving my lap times from previous years. I have improved my times for everywhere I have raced so far this year, so why not the TT?
“I have done my homework, I am fitter, and I don’t see why not. Maybe if my luck was in I won’t be too far away from top-six finishes. Who knows?”
They say ‘a happy rider is a fast rider’. If Hamilton can make the podium and can better his lap of nearly 126mph in 2014, he will probably sport the broadest smile on the island.
The man they all have to beat is eight-times winner Michael Dunlop. He hasn’t shown a great deal of winning form so far this season, but some of that is down to machinery problems. However, come the TT, the most important meeting of his season, I expect he will be on the pace.
Even if he has the odd problem with the bikes, Dunlop will more than make up the difference in sheer class and determination around the most fearsome road circuit in the world.
In the Superbike class the 26-year-old has won on the factory Honda’s in 2013, then the works BMWs last year, and this time around he is on board the Milwaukee Yamaha. Will he add to his wins? Probably! Even in the Supersport class, his Yamaha will be hard to beat with him on board.
The men most likely to be his biggest rivals are 21-times winner John McGuinness, who last year carried an injury that hampered his progress on the mountain course. He is back to full fitness and, on his trusty Honda, could give his young rival problems.
The Tyco BMW pairing of brother William and fans’ favorite Guy Martin will certainly be in the hunt, but they would both need to make a better showing than they did at the North West to trouble Michael.
The fastest man ever around the TT circuit, Bruce Anstey, could upset the Dunlop apple cart - if he gets away on the opening lap and doesn’t have to play catch-up.
Ian Hutchinson rides the PBM Kawasaki and might spring a few surprises.
Gary Johnston, Dan Kneen, Keith Amor and Conor Cummins are four others who, again, on their day will challenge for rostrum finishes.
It all looks like a fortnight of speed and thrills on the Isle of Man. Let’s hope it’s a safe one in 2015 and Jamie Hamilton, along with the locals, return with trophies galore.
The opening race at this year’s event is the Superbike TT on Saturday (June 6).