Sidecar driver and Ballasalla resident Harry Payne is racing in the World Sidecar Championship at the British Sidecar Grand Prix this weekend with his passenger and reigning FIM world champion Mark Wilkes.
The team are racing as a wildcard in the event after looking for a racing opportunity to practice before their next round of the F2 championship as Mark recovered from a serious hand injury earlier this year which originally looked to have cut their season short.
The spot came after racer and friend of the team, Paul Knapton, contacted the series organiser Roger Body, got them the go ahead, and, with extra support from one of their local sponsors, KelProperties.im, they were on the program.
As this race requires a different sidecar then they normally use, Harry and his team, including his dad, had only a few weeks to finish rebuilding a bike (an f600) in time for this weekend’s race at Donington Park. Harry said: ‘After receiving the nod we only had a few weeks to rebuild this bike so we worked non-stop just to finish in time.’
The race marks the first time that a local sidecar driver and Manx crew have competed on the world stage since TT legend Dave Molyneux in 2007, and he says that Dave is an important part of his journey there. Harry said: ‘Dave’s been like a mentor to me on this, his knowledge of the sport is worth so much to me and his encouragement is part of the reason I decided to come this weekend.’
The journey to this appearance has been a relatively quick one for the rider who completed his first full sidecar season as a driver only last year after riding as a passenger since 2015 and beginning the move to driving in 2018.
Harry and Mike are also a new venture having only partnered up at the end of 2020 and, after making it to a world championship race so quickly, they’ve already set their sight on a full season of the tournament, a first for Payne, who said he wasn’t originally expecting to make it there so soon, but a return to usual ground for 2019 champion Wilkes.
On his goals for next year Harry said: ‘Me and the whole team want to be able to represent the Isle of Man on this world stage, the aim now is to do the world championship for the full season.’
To follow Harry’s progress this weekend and going forward you can visit his Facebook page @harrypayne45