GRAEME Gowland looks set for a return to the saddle after Phase One team bosses revealed he will join their 2018 European classic endurance assault.
The 2014 British Supersport runner-up has been on and off the scene since snapping his femur in a pre-season testing crash three years ago in Spain.
Gowland was last seen loitering in the BSB paddock at Snetterton in 2017, where he was ‘just having a bit of fun’ on his way to a sixth-place Supersport finish after having been off a bike for two full seasons.
But now, the affable Geordie is preparing for a whole different challenge as he joins Hugh Brasher and Peter Linden in the Phase One fold for their 2018 campaign.
Fans of classic and endurance racing will know the Phase One squad from its three FIM Endurance World Championship titles, the most recent coming with current British Superbike rider James Ellison back in 2003.
And Gowland is no stranger to the team. He joined up for a number of races across the 2008 and 2009 EWC seasons, including the famous Eight Hours of Suzuka where he, Damian Cudlin and Pedro Vallcaneras brought their Yamaha R1 home 12th overall.
Team boss Russell Benney says the Geordie gelled straight away with the new bike at a recent Valencia test, showing no sign of bother from his injuries – which has been the question mark surrounding Gowland’s return to action.
“Obviously Graeme has ridden for us before so he knows the team, but he’s been on our mental list for a couple years now,” he told UK Clubsport. “It just so happens that Mike [Dickinson] isn’t available this year as he has World Superbike duties.
“We use riders that we think are most suitable for classic racing, and [Gowland] fits that quite well. Testing at Valencia went well for us and he fit in straight away.
“Femur breaks take a big toll on the knee. But with our classic bike the seat is higher, so the knee takes less stress… Graeme didn’t seem bothered at all.”
With a modern rider back in the fold, some may wonder if Benney is plotting Phase One’s return to modern machinery. But the former NG racer admits he’s enjoying the classics, and says serious cash would be needed to tempt him into a modern paddock return.
“The thing with classic racing is that it’s great to go racing with a bunch of mates – people take it seriously but the atmosphere is just so much more relaxed.
“At the end of 2009 when we set set pole in Qatar and finished second, we decided to stop and that was enough. It would take a lot of money for everything to work as we’d want if we were to come back.”
*Images: Phase One