An interview with Peter Hickman: “There is nowhere in the world like the Isle of Man TT”.
Isle of Man. After a pandemic forced break of three years, the road racers have returned to the Isle of Man TT. In 2022 one of the big favourites is Peter Hickman from the Gas Monkey Garage by FHO Racing team. And ‘Hicky’ already justified this role by kicking the race week off with a dominating win in Saturday’s RST Superbike race – securing the first ever Isle of Man victory for the BMW M 1000 RR. He then also won Monday’s Superstock race. On Friday, Hickman will compete in the prestigious Senior TT with his M RR. In an interview, the successful BMW road racer speaks about the Isle of Man TT, the unique 60 kilometre Mountain Course, his preparation and the strong points of his bike.
Peter, how much did you miss racing on the Isle of Man?
Peter Hickman: “Yes, we missed two TTs and it has been actually three years since any of us have been riding around here. It has been a long time, but it is nice to be back. I am really happy with how the bikes are working, and I am really happy with how the circuit has been prepared. The organisers have done a great job and a lot of new infrastructure has been added to the circuit and the organisation, which helps us riders and teams and is a good thing. It means that they are progressing and trying to make the event better, not just for the spectators, but also for us teams and riders, which just makes our job easier. So it is great to see the progress.”
How do you prepare for road races like the Isle of Man TT?
Hickman: “I am not entirely sure you can prepare yourself for the Isle of Man TT. It is something so unique and different. I am racing in the British Superbike Championship anyway, so I am race-fit, I am on the bike and I feel like I am sharp in my head as I am racing already. This is a different style of riding to what I normally do. However, I don’t feel like I need to necessarily prepare directly for this. I think what I do already prepares me enough.”
You have been racing on the Isle of Man for several years – how do you prepare with regard to knowing the Mountain Course?
Hickman: “This is my seventh TT, my first one was in 2014. So from 2014 to 2019 I never missed one, and obviously what happened in the world meant we have not been here over the last couple of years. The track, to be honest, hasn’t really changed too much. There are some new bits of tarmac but the shape is, of course, the same. It is a long track, 60 kilometres or 37 ¾ miles, so there is a lot to remember. I don’t actually know how many corners there are, somebody said it’s about 260 corners, but I have no idea to be quite honest. Coming back here, I had not done a lap since 2019 until maybe two or three months ago at the launch for the TT in March. It has not changed much. I did not forget anything, which is a bonus. I didn’t feel like I was lost anywhere. I am happy to be back and I am enjoying the bike and the team.”
What skills do you need as a rider to ride at the Isle of Man TT? And do you need to be a bit crazy to do it?
Hickman: “Special skills for the Isle of Man TT – not particularly, I think. You maybe need to be a little bit crazy, I don’t know. I don’t think I am crazy but people tell me I am. To be honest: it’s calculated risk. It is just an awesome place to be. There is nowhere in the world like the Isle of Man TT.”
What is your favourite part of the circuit and why?
Hickman: “I get asked a lot what is my favourite part of the Isle of Man TT. My answer: it is from the start line to the finish line. The entire circuit is amazing. There is no part that I don’t like. There are bits that are more technical and difficult and there are bits that can make you apprehensive or make you really make sure that you are on your game. But overall it is just an awesome circuit. It has a bit of everything, everywhere. It’s long, it’s got massive undulations, it’s got bumps, it’s got smooth sections. It literally has everything. It is unbelievable to ride.”
This year is your first Isle of Man TT on the BMW M 1000 RR. Does the bike feel different to the ones you had before? How is it to ride here with the M RR?
Hickman: “The BMW M 1000 RR is a different bike to ride here to the ones in previous years. It’s definitely good to ride, and I have really enjoyed it so far. I think there is more to come from it, as well. It is just a nice bike to ride. I raced it in the 2021 British Superbike Championship. We finished fifth in the championship, won a couple of races, so I already understand the bike a lot, which was a good position to be in coming to the Isle of Man. I didn’t need to understand the bike, I just needed to understand the bike on this track. For me, the BMW M 1000 RR is an easy bike to ride, I think that’s one of the really strong points of it. Because if a bike is easy to ride it means you can extract the best out of it easier and quicker.”