Flying Ryan targets North West success

BANBRIDGE rider Ryan Gibson is on a roll as he gets set for race week at the North West 200.
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The local motor mechanic/dealer is enjoying a new lease of life in the sport this season, after acquiring a new bike - a BMW 1000RR.It's quite a machine and a perfect fit for the 6′1” owner! He told Chronicle Sport: "It's a long bike, suits my build, I feel comfortable on it, so it's going well."

He can say that again. 40-year-old Ryan is having his best year yet.

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He recently won the prestigious Enkalon Trophy race at Bishopscourt, then the following day at Kirkistown raced to a second and a third, leaving him second in the championship, one point behind the leader.

Ryan Gibson – in the form of his life going into the North West 200 next week. Picture: Jim McGann Photography.Ryan Gibson – in the form of his life going into the North West 200 next week. Picture: Jim McGann Photography.
Ryan Gibson – in the form of his life going into the North West 200 next week. Picture: Jim McGann Photography.

Just last weekend he was at Oulton Park in Cheshire for a round of the Wirral Championship, grabbing sixth, fifth and third places.

Ryan is first to admit it's not been an overnight success story! As he puts it: "I never sat on a motorbike until I was 30!

"I always liked motorbikes, but my father (Lawrence) was big into his rallycross, he was British champion and Irish champion a few times.

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"I always followed him, always thought I would go down that route, but cars were just too expensive!

"My father was also into bikes and my first memory of bikes was my parents taking me to the NW200 with my two sisters."

Another family member also inspired Ryan to switch to two wheels - and it was at the Triangle...

He added: "I was at the North West 10 years ago, we were standing on the sidelines watching, with an uncle of mine, and I can remember him saying 'I wish I'd have done that when I was younger.' That was the seed planted and I said I'm not going to make the same mistake."

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Now, 10 years on, he's targeting a top 10 finish at the iconic event as he competes in a total of five races, two on Thursday night, three on Saturday.

"If I could get anywhere near the top 10 in the Superstock or Superbike I'd be more than happy."

Ryan says he feels privileged to even be on the grid.

"To be associated in any small way with the North West 200, with the names that have gone through it, that have competed in the past, it's an honour. There's a lot of riders out there don't get the chance to do it."

The 2022 Ulster Supertwin champion had a few objectives when he started on bikes, and has ticked all the boxes.

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"My first road race was the Ulster Grand Prix. I did two of them, unfortunately, it's no more. That's always what I wanted to do.

"I started off racing bikes, me and a friend, I said if I could win the Supersport (600cc) Cup Championship, get into the Superbikes and do the North West, I'd be more than happy.

"I've done that and I've won a Superbike race so I've gone further already than I thought I would. I have to mention my friends and family - I couldn't do it on my own."

He sets off for North West week on Sunday to prepare for those big race days, next Thursday and Saturday.

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