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Wednesday 06 June 2012
TT races: rising star aims to put our famous colours on the podium

AFC Motorsport rider Ben Wylie has his sights set on a podium finish at the TT races after an encouraging performance so far.

Ben finished a creditable 16th in the Royal London 360 Superstock TT race, an event that featured the best professionals on the Isle of Man road racing circuit. The mercurial John McGuinness, who is the all-time leading rider at the world-famous event, added another victory in the race on Monday in a superb demonstration of speed that has made him a legend of the sport.

But watched by AFC Wimbledon manager Terry Brown, along with first-team players Sammy Moore, Jason Prior, Jim Fenlon and Frankie Merrifield, Ben produced a performance that lived up to his billing as one of the rising stars of the TT races. Ben may not have been riding for AFC Motorsport on Monday, but he will be racing in our yellow and blue colours on Friday in the Lightweight TT race. The 28-year-old admits that the AFC Motorsport entry has sparked a lot of interest on the Isle of Man and he aims to put our team on the podium.

“Once you put your helmet on, then you want to do well for yourself, but it is good to be a part of something a bit different,” he said. “Most of the sponsors from the TT races are from within the industry so AFC Motorsport has attracted quite a lot of attention over here. The fact that it is a football club involved with an Isle of Man-based racing team has created a fair bit of interest. It took me quite a few meetings with Leslie Carter (team manager) to work out the connection. But we came over to Wimbledon for the Dagenham game and I really enjoyed myself. Everyone wants to win the senior TT races, but my best chance will come for the AFC Motorsport team in the Lightweight class. I would love to get on the podium and though there will be a lot of competition, I feel that we have the potential to do it. In the senior races, I am looking at the top-15, but I would be over the moon with a top-10 finish.”

Ben’s TT never got off to the best of starts on Saturday when the Wylie Racing team’s BMW 1000 had a mechanical failure and he had to withdraw on the first lap. That is something that can always happen on bikes that reach maximum speeds of 180mph at fast parts of the course, including Creg-ny-Baa, a prime spectator area. However, this is Ben’s fourth time at the TT races and he was the best newcomer in his debut on the Isle of Man in 2009. Racing is also in Ben’s blood as he comes from a family with a big passion for motorsport over many years.

“My parents run motorbike shops called Wylie Motorcycles and my Dad competed in the Manx GP so I have grown up with it all," he added. "I got a road bike at the age of 16 and it has all gone on from there. There will be risk wherever you race, but I love the prestige of the TT races. It is hard to believe sometimes when you are riding through small villages at great speed with so many people waving to you. I have a much bigger schedule this year and I am riding three different bikes. I cannot take any credit for AFC Motorsport as that is all the hard work from Leslie and Tina. They have done a great job in bringing it all together and hopefully I can do well for them on Friday. The man of the moment is of course John McGuinness and he is 40 years of age now, so hopefully I have another 12 years to go.”

That could mean a few more chances yet for AFC Motorsport to get on the podium at the TT races if there is no glory on the Isle of Man this Friday.