Dec 23, 2010
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Steve Plater (111) on the Honda France CBR1000RR during the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Photo courtesy of Steve Plater.
Woodhall Spa racer Steve Plater is turning his back on the Isle of Man TT and the North West 200 road races and is set to branch out into the world of Endurance racing.
Plater admits he will miss the buzz of road racing. "I went to the NW200 as a spectator in 1993 and I instantly realised I wanted to be a part of it all; so much so that I returned the following year as a competitor. The mass start, elbow to elbow racing suited my riding style and I really enjoyed it."
Steve was on the podium in 2006 and won his first NW200 race in 2007. Since then he has gone from strength to strength winning a further eight races including his last five. After setting pole in 2010 he was looking good to add to his win tally but a freak crash in qualifying put paid to any hope of that. He was left with a broken neck and a badly broken arm which also had nerve damage.
"It was a huge decision to quit the roads," said Steve. "But I wanted to stop while I was still winning and having won the last five races I contested at the NW200 and also two races at the Isle of Man TT (The Supersport 600 and the High profile Senior TT) I know I have gone out on a high note. But I have not turned my back on the roads altogether as I am still heavily involved with the organisers at the NW200 and the TT. As a past winner at both venues I will be assisting with promotion and of course as race co-ordinator for Honda TT Legends will be overseeing the team preparation for both events. I have also been invited to ride in the parade lap at the TT this year."
Steve, who has two TT victories to his name and is the current Senior TT Race Record holder, will be riding a replica RC30 to represent the late Steve Hislop's achievement as the first rider to lap at more than 120mph in 1989."
Already signed to ride in the Honda Motors Europe-backed Honda TT Legends team to be run from the Honda Racing workshop in Louth, he will line up alongside teammates John McGuinness and Keith Amor in 2011 as they contest the full World Endurance championship held at venues throughout the world and to include a round on home tarmac at Donington Park in August.
"The World Endurance championship is close to my heart," explained the ever smiling Lincolnshire rider. "I rode in the 1999 Bol d'Or and that kicked off my Superbike career. To be able to return to Endurance with one of the best teams in the world is awesome."
Having ridden with various teams and been runner up in the world championship on two occasions Plater has tremendous experience of Endurance racing and is relishing the thought of finally winning the world title with Honda in 2011.
But it won't be an easy task for Plater as although he is fully experienced McGuinness has only one endurance race to his credit and Amor is a complete rookie to the class. But Plater is confident that the Honda TT Legends team, managed by Neil Tuxworth will be a force to be reckoned with and stand as good a chance of any to lift the trophy at the end of the season.
"My involvement with the team will hopefully help shorten the learning curve for John and Keith. You need determination and stamina, especially for the 24-hour races. You have to ride to the limit on every lap of the race and you have to realise that after 18 hours it is possible you have to do back to back sessions on the bike. I have been out there on a dry track and then it's rained and begun to dry again during a session. As I was the only rider in the team to know where the damp patches are it was crucial I stay out there to save time as the new rider would have had to get up to speed and then learn where the damp patches were. There is no time to relax it's that tight at the front.
"Endurance racing can be frustrating as you can encounter problems with the bike or suffer a crash but it is very satisfying when you get the right result.
"I really want to win the World Endurance title before I stop riding and this opportunity with Honda will give me the best chance. Honda have also given me the chance to try my hand on the administrative side of racing as they have appointed me as their race co-ordinator and I really want to push forward in this aspect of my career as well. I am not getting any younger and realise I cannot race motorbikes for ever but I am planning to be riding for at least another three years as long as I am fast and capable of winning races."