Plant aiming to mount another successful year on the roads

Lockdown provided two major firsts for racer Ben Plant – a first bash at England's only road race and also welcoming his first child into the world.

Plant, from Wem, was left frustrated – like all racers – with constant cancellations due to Covid-19 during 2021.

But despite the fact some of his favourite races are still not taking place this year, the birth of his son and return of more racing in 2021 has given him plenty to look forward to, which includes a return to Oliver's Mount in Scarborough – a course he admits he immediately fell in love with.

"Last year was a bit of a funny one because my son was born, so I got to spend lots of time with him," he said.

"On the downside, I wasn't able to get out to many race meetings and the few I was booked in for over in Ireland were all cancelled.

"However, towards the end of the year I was able to race at Oliver's Mount for the first time, in the Barry Sheene Classic.

"So I made my debut there and then a few weeks after that we raced at Cadwell Park in the NG Road Racing series.

"That was all the racing I managed to do last year but the main thing I got from Oliver's Mount was I absolutely loved it – and it was just brilliant to get back on the roads on the bike again.

Plant bagged first podium racing on the roads at the Cookstown 100 in Northern Ireland in 2019

"I didn't think it was a place I would enjoy because you're quickly going from first up to fifth gear in a lot of places.

"I don't usually go well on the circuits like that but Oliver's Mount was just really, really fun – and we plan to be back for the Gold Cup in May.

"It all depends on Government guidelines but so long as it can be run safely I can't see any reason why not."

Despite an exciting return to Scarborough, Plant was left reeling following the cancellation of the Manx GP – which is raced around the same 37.73-mile road circuit as the Isle of Man TT – for the second year running.

However, he hopes to be back in 2022 and will also be helping to nurture the next batch of promising road racers after being asked to become an instructor.

"I'm obviously gutted there's no Manx GP because although I knew 2020 wouldn't happen I was hopeful, with the vaccines, it could maybe happen this year.

"But of course the Manx government has to think about the locals and the island went into lockdown recently too.

"I had two great years at the Manx and the plan had been to improve in 2020 and 2021, with a view to then entering the main TT in 2022.

"Now the next Manx GP is 2022, so the absolute earliest I could race the TT would be 2023 – but I suppose at least I've managed to do what I've done in the past because a lot of riders who wanted to race the roads haven't been able to get the Manx at all.

Plant will be nurturing the next batch of Manx GP hopefuls after becoming an instructor. Picture: ottpix@btinternet.com

"I'm also an instructor now for the Manx Association, which means I'll be working with the next generation of riders and I'll be there to help them as much as I can.

"I have the knowledge and experience that could help them get through it.

"I did an instructor's course at the beginning of 2020 after I was approached and asked if I wanted to come on board.

"I'd always shown an interest and had put my name forward to be considered early on, so I did a course and exam online.

"When I went out racing a couple of people took me under their wing – and I never forgot that, so I wanted to give something back."

Plant also has his eyes on a return to the Irish road racing scene and is hopeful the Cookstown 100, scheduled to take place September 10-11, will go ahead this year.

"In 2019, I raced at Cookstown, got a podium and then did a few jobs for the bloke I was staying with in between, which paid for my board," he said.

"I hope it goes ahead this year as most of the other Irish road races have already been cancelled.

Ben Plant made his debut at Oliver's Mount in 2020. Picture: ottpix@btinternet.com

"But my focus this year will hopefully be going back to Oliver's Mount again and then maybe entering a few decent club racing meetings on the circuits.

"I hadn't really done anything on the bikes in the workshop during lockdown and, I'll be honest, I had got a bit lax about racing – almost like I couldn't be bothered.

"But the other week I cleaned the workshop up, got the bikes up on the ramp, and now I cannot wait to get getting again. I'm excited about racing again.

"I have a new gearbox for the 600cc ZX6 Kawasaki, which I'll be testing, and I 'll be back on my Kawasaki ER650 supertwin.

"This year I'm also trying to rebuild my superstock bike but I don't think that will be ready for Oliver's Mount.

Ben Plant has praised his sponsors for their continued support

"I'd also like to thank all of my sponsors who have been so loyal while most of the racing has been cancelled. Their support really means a lot."

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