MOTOR SPORT: FRODSHAM teenager Howie Mainwaring safely negotiated two more races in his first British Superbikes season last weekend and has impressed seasoned observers by his mature and safe riding.
He reckons he has already broadened his racing skills and built his confidence since joining the privateers in the opening round of the relaunched series at Oulton Park in May.
He was back at the Cheshire circuit on Sunday, finshing 22nd in the first race and 21st in the second. He chose to go out in the first race on wets following heavy rain, but in the warm atmosphere, the track started to dry out, which didn't do a lot for his tyres.
Mainwaring's parents have made many sacrifices to get him started in professional racing, but they always knew it would be a steep learning curve for him.
He recalled: 'I wasn't old enough to race a Superbike at the start of the season when I was having ideas about contesting the series,'
'Fortunately, the organisers brought the Privateer Cup back at just the right time for me because I was just 17 and was able to start right at the beginning of the series.'
As well as being more affordable for riders who don't have factory backing or the support of a major sponsor, the lesser championship does offer the best of both worlds.
He added: 'As well as our own contest for the Cup, we are also racing against the top riders in the country, so we are learning a lot and having the chance to beat a few of them occasionally.
'Even as privateers, we have to qualify within 107% of the pole man's time, so there is no guaranteed ride. You have to put in the effort and have the speed.' Mainwaring came into Superbike action in the second round at Snetterton to compete in the full title chase. It wasn't a start to remember for last year's ACU Academy Rider of the Year as the front brake pipe burst and he crashed on the fast straight - and that was the end of his debut weekend!
He has been taken on by Chester motorcycle dealer Bill Smith, the former TT star, to race a Yamaha R1 in his Teen Star team, and scored his first big bike points on his home circuit with sixth place in the opening Privateer Cup race of the year three months ago.
'I feel that, thanks to the privateer series, I have come quite a long way in that short space of time,' he said.
Mainwaring, who got his first experience on 250 and 600cc machines last year, is determined to get to the top of his chosen sport.
'I don't want to be racing in Britain for much longer,' he said. 'Obviously, I would like to move on with success in the British championship to my credit, but the ultimate goal is MotoGP.'
He returns to the track at Cadwell Park over the August bank holiday.
* The first Privateer Cup winner in 1998 was Phil Giles, who went on to race in the 500cc class, and the following year the title went at the first attempt to Aussie Paul Young, who now races for the DB Recruit.com Yamaha team.