LANCASHIRE-forged Benjamin Heaton has seen his share of ups and downs this year, but plans to tackle his biggest challenge in 2017 at the Manx Grand Prix.
Heaton, who started racing in 2007, had his debut season cut short after being forced out of action by a road incident, only to spend the next seven years off the track.
Picking up the pieces two years ago, 2014 saw the Bolton-born bloke return to racing with a spatter of outings in the now-defunct Hottrax Motorsport 600 championship aboard a Yamaha R6.
Over the winter that followed, Heaton took ownership of his mother’s first motorcycle, a 1968 Honda which he converted into a 195cc race machine.
With three wins and not a step off the podium all season long, the Wiganer took the 2015 under-250cc Classic Championship title with Preston & District MCC in dominant fashion.
Contributing to the stable of machinery this year was a classic Ducati MKIII, but Heaton still predominantly took to the tarmac on the diminutive Honda, finishing 4th in both the Aintree 350cc Singles class and the 125cc/250cc Singles class.
Although not able to defend his under-250cc Classic Championship crown, Three Sisters Circuit was once again where he found the most success, with seven rostrum finishes and one win contributing to his third place in class this year.
For 2017, the Lancs lad looks set for a brimmed campaign, taking on multiple short circuit club championships, as well as making his road racing debut in Ireland and venturing to the Isle of Man for the Classic TT / Manx Grand Prix in August.
Keen on tackling the Snaefell Mountain Course for many moons, Heaton’s drive was further spurred by the untimely passing of best mate Malachi Mitchell-Thomas at this year’s North West 200 in Northern Ireland.
The classics racer assisted in the latter Boltonian’s early foray on the European Supermoto scene – in memoriam of his young friend’s favoured digits, he has run race numbers ‘12’ and ‘666’ throughout the season.
At the infamous time trial on the Mountain Course, Heaton plans to compete on both classic and modern machinery, though has recently retired the plucky vintage ‘RC195’.
This year’s Classic TT was the family man’s first opportunity to have a road-going lap around the 37.73-mile circuit.
“The years of onboard laps paid off,” Heaton said, “Even with the mountain in dense fog, I entered and exited every bend in complete confidence… absolutely loved it!”
“We had amazing success in both 2015 and 2016 with championship titles, and 2017 will be our biggest season yet… we are competing on Peter Flemming’s Aermacchi, which is going back racing in Ireland when we go over for my debut into the Irish road racing championship.”
“Thank you to everyone for their much appreciated support… more updates and news on the other exciting rides for this season coming soon!”
*Images supplied by Benjamin Heaton