EGLINTON’s exciting road racing prospect, Conor Parkhill has set his sights on the British Superstock 600 Championship next year having missed out on selection for a coveted place in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies series.
SIMON COLLINS reports
The talented teenager, who became the youngest ever 125cc Irish National champion in 2011 at 14 years-old, was among 106 riders from around the world at Monteblanco last week as they challenged for one of just 12 places up for grabs in the Red Bull Rookies class of 2013.
It was one of the biggest achievements of his short career so far and a chance to compete at the prestigious event which runs on the undercard of motorcycling’s top tier MotoGP World Championship.
The Red Bull Rookies series offers upcoming young riders a fantastic opportunity to make a breakthrough on the world stage and in the past has been a stepping stone to greater things for top N. Ireland pair Jonathan Rea and Eugene Laverty.
However, it was a massive task for the 15 year-old Derry lad who was at a disadvantage having stepped off a Supertwin to get back onto a two-stroke 125 and he missed out on final selection after the intense three-day selection process at the Spanish circuit last Tuesday.
Conor, who races for Ryan Farquhar’s KMR team in the Irish Supertwins and Adelaide Masters Supertwins Championships, was disappointed not to make the final day but his dad, Stewart - a former Irish Road Race champion himself - revealed his son is already turning his attentions to his next venture.
“He was disappointed not to get through to the final day but it was a great achievement even to get selected for the qualification event,” said Stewart. “It would have been nice to get through to the final but it involved all the world’s best young riders so it was a tough ask.
“He slid off his bike on one of the corners and once they see that, they judge that as a fall. That’s it and you don’t get through but his times would’ve been fine.”
The Spanish circuit was kept secret until the last practical moment before the Red Bull Rookies Assessment last Tuesday and from that time until the event no testing is allowed by applicants, therefore it was always going to be a tough test for the young Derry man.
“We thought he was quick enough and in fact he was the quickest of all of the 10 riders from Britain and Ireland participating, none of who got through. (Conor being the only rider from Ireland),
“It was difficult because you just get on the bike and ride it, you’re not allowed to adjust the suspension or touch the bike at all before the event” explained Stewart.
“There’s no practice, you’re just straight on. Conor’s starting to stretch and is really no longer small enough to be considered a true 125 rider, and he’s up against boys from the age of 12 most of who are tiny like jockeys, so the weight difference was significant.
“Some of the other boys were much lighter so Conor was at a disadvantage in that respect, especially since they were all on the same Metrakit preGP 125s all limited to only 32hp.”
Despite missing out on the high profile series, the experience will provide Conor with priceless recognition and it completes a breakthrough season where he’s shown undoubted potential as a hot prospect in the sport.
Indeed, it’s been an outstanding year for the Eglinton lad having incredibly finished as runner-up in the KTM European Junior Cup race at Silverstone last August where he was entered as a wild card.
The talented teenager also won the Adelaide Masters Supertwins title at Mondello Park recently and finished as runner-up in the class in the Irish Championship behind Andrew Irwin.
“He’s had a real great year riding for Ryan Farquhar’s team in the Supertwins. But that’s the end of the season now so we have to concentrate on putting together a substantially increased budget to take his racing to the next level next year.”
Any potential sponsors interested in coming on board and supporting Conor in his bid to compete at the Fully Televised British Superstock 600 are welcome to contact Stewart on 07967967536.