The countdown for the 2017 Isle of Man TT is finally over and a day before the first practice session kicks off we introduce you one of the most talented newcomers of this edition.
Northern Irish Paul Jordan will make his debut on the Mountain Course tomorrow, during the Newcomers session, starting with a lap of the 37.73 miles circuit behind an instructor; a lap that these new riders will hardly forget.
Born in Magherafelt (Northern Ireland), 25 years old Jordan is not new to the road racing world, though. He started with the British Championship with the “wee bikes”, as he says, and then switched to pure road racing in the same 125cc class: 3rd at the 2014 Ulster GP, 1st in the 2015 Irish Road Racing 125cc Championship, “Man of the Meeting” at the 2016 Cookstown 100, 4th in the Supertwin Race at the Ulster GP and four top 15 results at the North West 200 in 2016 as well.
This year is going to be one to remember for Jordan, making his debut on the legendary TT Course: he will be onboard the B&W/Site Sealants Racing CBR600RR Honda Supersport (ex Tarran MacKenzie), the team owned by Brian Hull and Guy Amor (brother of former rider Keith); Paul is going to tackle the Mountain Course with a S1000RR BMW with the “big bikes”, backed by Manx company Evolution Camping.
We met Paul after the first day of racing at the North West 200, the 4th for him in his bright career.
Paul, how is this North West 200 going for you?
Not how I planned, I expected to be higher of where I am because I have got a new bike and I thought it would have been the icing on the cake. I’m a bit disappointed about where I am after training so hard over the winter and not coming here fighting for wins is a sort of being on the backfoot already. We’re still trying to figure out the problem with the new bike, we’re playing catch about all the time and tomorrow for the race we’re only going out and test the bike to see if it’s going alright. It’s very very frustrating.
So it is like a test for the TT.
Yes, especially yesterday was a real wake up call, I was out for a 45 minutes session and I was on the Supertwin, Supersport, Superstock and it was back to back. It was nice to give my body a good shake for the TT. There’s nowhere where I have had this practice, the opportunity to test my endurance. So it’s just nice to see how my body is going to feel for the two TT weeks.
How are you training for your racing season?
I’m training in a place in Coleraine and I’m just doing a lot of strenght and endurance work. I do a bit of motocross with my cousin, I just try to keep myself fit. In this period last year I was still training and still drinking, you know, I was enjoying myself and the results were coming because I was more relaxed, whereas this year I’m trying to be more professional about it, putting the head down but I went backwards. Last year I was just a bit more relaxed. I’m just trying to take a step back to go forward again.
Are you training in a particular way for the TT, especially mentally?
I don’t think there’s really any way I can train, if that makes sense. Basically all I have been doing trying to train myself mentally and getting myself ready for this is going on treadmill having an onboard in front of me and just running, so I’m working as well as thinking about what I’m doing at the same time. I think that’s the only thing I can do mentally at the minute. I can go out and do motocross bike and do have enough strenght but you’re not mentally prepared because you’re doing laps on the same circuit, while on the Isle of Man everything is different, once you have completed a lap then you start again so I think I can’t really do it until I get on the bike.
So, don’t you usually train with the PlayStation like many other riders do?
No, just onboards, I think that with the Playstation you can sort of forget about what you’re doing and get more competitive with the game itself and then you’re doing stupid stuff, you know, like cut out corners. Just onboards, I’m really watching them. And when I was there I walked most of the circuits itself, getting out of the car. If you are stick in a car, because it’s four wheels, your right hand wheels could be feeling less than what your left hand wheels were doing, so I just got out walking where I should be on the road. At the start when I was out with Milky he was flat out like a kid at Christmas, over excited about what he was telling me. I had nearly too much information because I didn’t know where I was going straight off. And the more I progressed and learnt where I was going, the more the things he was telling me did come in as if I didn’t understand what he meant, and silly things did stick in my head, where he said things were.
Have you got a target for the TT?
Just more like a lap time, I’m not really worried about a position because at the end of the day there are always going to be break downs. You can’t really say who is going to break down, how many are going to break down, so you don’t really have a clue of where you are really going to be. So, if I do a lap time I feel happy with it’ll be only myself, I know what I want to do and that’s the way I want to keep on, you know yourself, and everyone put pressure on yourself and the media get the hold of it, making it bigger than what it is. So at the minute I just keep it under control.
Which races are you going to do this year after the TT?
I think I’ll just probably stick to the roads: Skerries, Armoy, Ulster GP, maybe I’ll make an appearance at a few British Championship rounds.
Would you like to go to Macau one day?
That has just been brought to me yesterday, asking what I’m doing. A fella from England has a bike going but he just needs a rider so basically I think it’s just time to organize and it’s up to me. Definitely it’s something me and Brian would love to do. My mechanic Brian used to be a mechanic for Keith Amor. Keith’s brother Guy is one of my sponsors, he built my Honda last year and he just wanted to stay onboard for this year. I tried to get Keith onboard as well as a manager…
Why did you start with road racing?
I’ve done British Championship and Irish Short Circuits for 5-6 years, then I was really just down to find money. I have last been in British Championship running competitively in 2010. There was not enough money to keep going. And because I was good friend with William Dunlop and my little brother did a wee bit of road racing, then I just thought I am going to do it because I was brought up with road racing and I didn’t see it as a difficult choice for me. Then William Dunlop built me a bike in 2013, then I crashed at the Ulster Grand Prix and put myself in the Royal (Hospital) and then I just kept going and kept progressing through the ranks.
So it was something you had in your blood.
Yes, just normal. Like, he (points at his cousin) has just started short circuits this year, I put my money that he was going road racing, but he keeps telling me he’s not going to do it. There’s so many short circuits you can do here but then you get bored unless you want to go to British Championship and you’ve got a bike sponsor and millions and millions of pounds, but it’s not really about talent anymore. And there was a road race you were at last year, Imatra. I want to do that race! I want to do some different events, I got in contact also with Wanganui organizers but it’s a bit far. I just want to do something different!
Thanks a lot Paul and good luck!