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Thursday 07 June 2012
TT races: AFC Motorsport rider proud to receive "surprise" call-up

Manx GP Champion Billy Smith is determined to repay the AFC Motorsport team for handing him a “surprise” call-up for the TT races.

The Douglas-based rider may have won the Lightweight 400 class at the amateur equivalent of the TT races, but Billy admitted he thought he was on the receiving end of a joke when AFC Motorsport manager, Leslie Carter, offered him a spot in the team after his superb victory last year.

Liverpool fan Billy, who needed no reminding about THAT day in 1988, said: “I thought it was a wind-up when I got the call from Leslie after I won at the Manx Grand Prix last year. Leslie told me that AFC Wimbledon wanted to have a team in the TT races and asked if I wanted to be in it. I know all about the history of the club. It took me a while to get my head around it, but I am glad that it turned out to be true. What Les and the team have done in creating this in such a short space of time is absolutely fantastic. All their hard work has paid off in getting us ready for this and I am just determined to pay them back with a good result on Friday.”

Billy, aged 42, cannot wait to compete on the flagship day of the TT races as mixing it with the professionals is a big step-up from being a top amateur – and he is a relative newcomer to the sport.

“I had not even been on a motorbike until I was 30,” he added. “I won the lightweight class at the Manx GP, but this is a whole new ball game now. In terms of preparation, it has gone well, but we have had little things that have gone wrong. Hopefully, we can get it right for the big one on Friday. Ben is a more experienced rider than me and this is the first time that I have competed at the TT races, but I am confident that we can both earn top-10 finishes and then hopefully build on that next year.”

Billy finished a respectable 37th in a hotly-contested seniors race yesterday in what was his final warm-up for tomorrow's event in the Lightweight 650 class. Racing for Brenin Bikes, fellow AFC Motorsport rider Ben Wylie finished an excellent 15th in the same Monster Energy Supersport TT race, an event won in thrilling style by Michael Dunlop.

Leslie Carter, who jointly manages AFC Motorsport with his wife Tina, has no doubts that he has assembled the right team. As a big AFC Wimbledon fan, Leslie hopes for that little bit of luck that helped us beat Luton Town on penalties to earn a spot in the Football League last year.

“We have got a couple of things up our sleeves,” he said. “We have had Suzuki down to take a look at the bikes again and hopefully we can get a bit more top speed. We are right up there though and it is just a case of keeping everything crossed that things go well on the day and we have a good result on Friday. It would be a bit like Wimbledon getting back into the Football League for me if we can get a podium finish. It would be fabulous for everyone connected with the team.”