Hobbsy is going all out for Championship
Dennis Hobbs will be going all out to make an early charge for his first major title when the British Supersport Championship roars into action tomorrow.
The Barnard Castle-based rider is embarking on his second season with the Padgett's Honda squad, once again riding the CBR-600 in the leading championship.
And again it seems the Guisborough-born joker has been hitting the gym in a bid to slim down as much as possible for the season opener at Brands Hatch.
Hobbsy, affectionately known around the paddock as Bigfoot due to his sheer height, struggled in the earlier stages of last season with the smaller bike.
With power to weight ratio an important factor in bikesport, the lanky rider has had to compensate for his long legs by staying off the pies and getting stuck into his training, and now he says he is fitter than ever and ready to go.
"I'm really looking forward to this season, even more so than last year," he admitted to Burning Rubber. "Last year was more like my learning year, it was all about getting used to the smaller bike and learning the pace. This year, it's just got to be about going out and winning.
"I did find it took as few rounds to get used to it, I had to change my riding style a little bit to get the most out of the 600, but by season end I was getting on the podium and running at the front, so the only way forward from there is to win races and ultimately the championship."
Hobbsy is being joined at Padgett's by TT legend John McGuinness, who is believed to be placing more emphasis on his road racing this year, leaving Den as team No 1 in the British championship.
With last year's championship winner - Cal Crutchlow - now riding in the Superbike class, there will be no defending champion this season, and other big names like Leon Camier and Pere Riba have also moved on to other things.
But Hobbsy says their departure does not mean it will be any easier for him. "Yes, we've not got the likes of Cal and Riba anymore, but for every fast lad that leaves, another one comes along.
"This year I think it will be the closest one yet. I believe there are a good half dozen of us who are capable of taking this championship, so it will be important to get good results in from the start.
"For me, it is all about ending the year as champion. I want to be on the box tomorrow and fully intend to back it up with more of the same at Thruxton next weekend."
After tomorrow's race at the Kent circuit, Hobbsy and the rest of the BSB circus will head across to Thruxton for next weekend's second round. There will then be one weekend off before back-to-back races at Silverstone and Oulton Park.
Back on his bike
Seven days after interviewing the World Superbike stars at Donington Park last week, Norton-born presenter Michael Hill is back on a bike himself today.
And the 25-year-old, who now lives in London, is hoping to consistently run in the top 10 this year, as he launches his assault once again on the British 125cc Championship at Brands Hatch.
Last month he won both of the opening two races of the North East Motorcycle Club 125cc Road Race Championship at Croft, and he will be looking to find the same form in today's qualifying session ahead of tomorrow's race.
Someone else looking to go well this weekend is Middlesbrough's Paul Veazey, who is once again contesting the Metzeler Racetec National Superstock Championship.
After a difficult 2006 onboard a Kawasaki, the 20-year-old has joined 2005 champions Krystal Racing Space Air and will contest the fierce championship on a brand new Yamaha R1.
However, this season we are missing a number of our favourites from the British championships.
Geordies Chris Burns and Chris Coates have been unable to find rides, while Knaresborough wonderkid Dan Linfoot is still pursuing a 250cc GP ride.
Allendale's Graeme Gowland has upped and left, opting to race 600s in Spain after scoring a hat-trick of victories in last season's Virgin Mobile Cup.