8:00am Friday 21st March 2014
By Andrew Simpson
HE may be only 22, but not long ago Connor Behan decided he had raced a motorbike for the last time.
It was the end of a debut season in the Irish Road Racing Championships, during which he finished runner-up in both classes he entered.
“I’m drawing a line here,” he wrote in a post on Facebook last October.
“It’s been a real rollercoaster, and definitely a big part of my life I’ll never forget.”
On Friday, he told the Guardian that he had changed his mind.
The previous day, in Northern Ireland, he tested for the first time a machine he will ride on the roads in this year’s series.
Behan said: “I honestly thought that was it.
“I’d been working hard to build up my business, and it needed more of my attention if I wanted to make a go of it. Things have changed rapidly, and so I’ve had another choice to make.”
He believes 2014 may be make or break for his racing career but, perhaps because he didn’t expect it to be, is relaxed about that.
The former Weaverham High School pupil will again be part of KMR Kawasaki’s roster, stepping up to the Supersport and Supertwins categories.
As part of the arrangement, he has entered the prestigious North West 200 and will make his debut at the world famous Isle of Man TT in June.
“I don’t feel any pressure,” said Behan. “If I do well, then so be it. What I do know is I feel as confident and relaxed going into a race season as I can remember.”
It may make the difference.
The Northwich-based ace will benefit too from spending a second season learning from team boss Ryan Farquhar – the most successful rider in Irish national road racing history.
Behan said: “It’s great to be back with him. His knowledge was a big help to me last year when everything was new. I expected things to be a bit mad, but it was mental!
“I loved every part of it though; the bikes, the atmosphere and the passion of the people that followed it.
“To them, motorcycling is a religion. I like that, it’s authentic.
“I’d lost interest in circuit racing in England, and don’t think I could go back to it.”
His excitement was heightened during a successful test on his SGS International-liveried ZX-6R in Kirkistown last week.
He hopes to make further progress on March 29 during an Irish Short Circuit Championship round at Bishopscourt.
“I expected it to take longer to feel comfortable than it did,” he said.
“The bike was great from pretty much the first moment I sat on it. I just can’t wait for the season to start now.”
Connor Behan thanks sponsors Forma, Maxton Suspension, Scott Leathers, Shark Helmets, Woolsey Concrete and Vital Design for their support.
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