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Monday, 25 May 2015

Dominic ready for TT challenge

A YOUNG motorcyclist from Hexham is aiming to follow in his father’s prestigious footsteps.

Dominic Herbertson follows in the footsteps of his father, motorcycling champion, Mark Herbertson.

Dominic Herbertson (22), of Beaumont Park, is racing away to take over the Team Herbertson mantle from his distinguished father Mark (55), who is bringing his long career in road racing to a close.

Having finished as second best newcomer in the Manx Grand Prix, the youngster is targeting the Holy Grail next year – a starting place in the world famous Isle of Man TT.

And the signs are promising for the rider who is hoping for a similarly fruitful career in the sport to his inspiration – his father.

Mark has been racing since 1979 and is well-known in road racing circles and a competitor at the TT, although now he is concentrating on racing the Classics as he winds down.

On the opposite side of the age spectrum, Dominic has already started to catch the eye, although he needed to overcome a tough start to his 2013 racing season.

An unfortunate crash at Croft circuit saw him walk away unhurt, but his motorcycle was in a much more critical condition and saw him out of the game for a while until it was fixed.

But, with the assistance of the Mike Hailwood Foundation, at the Isle of Man, he bounced back and was taken to the formidable 37.74 mile course of the TT race.

Appearing in the Newcomers B class at the Manx Grand Prix, he finished in sixth place with a best lap time of just under 107mph, earning him the silver replica.

He followed this up with a second replica when he finished second newcomer, and a very creditable 18th overall.

Following the Manx GP experience, he returned to short circuit racing and achieved his first race win and several top three finishes at race events at Mallory Park and Three Sisters.

But it was the thrill of haring around the famous TT course which has whetted his appetite, and he has his sights firmly of emulating his dad’s successes – at the very least.

Dominic said: “I don’t just want to follow in his footsteps; I want to go even quicker than him! I have always loved being part of Team Herbertson growing up, but I would rather be racing than shouting support from the sidelines.

“There is nowhere else in the world where someone will hold you by the shoulders and say, ‘there’s 37 miles, go as quick as you can!’

“You line up, facing downhill and everything else goes quiet except your heart thumping, and you don’t think about anything.

“I just love the thrill of going so fast, and it is a comedown and gutting going home after the race.”

With a wealth of experience in road racing, Mark knows talent when he sees it.

And, with family bias aside, he is predicting very big things for his son who he thinks has the ability to cope with the demands of the TT.

Mark said: “I’m in a position where I wouldn’t be supporting Dominic to go to the TT unless I genuinely thought he was good enough to do it. I see a very good road racer in him and that is why I am keen for him to take that next step.

“It was always inevitable that he was going to get into motorcycle racing because he has been around bikes since he was born, effectively, and it would have been very difficult to deny him the opportunity.

“But he has learned that there is a lot of cost involved in it, and he is going about everything the right way and I think he has incredible potential to go far.”

And Dominic’s rise up the ladder is filling his father with immense pride, Team Herbertson not ready to call it a day just yet.

Over the years, trips across the UK, especially to Isle of Man, have always been a family affair with father Dennis, wife Libby, daughters Jo and Sam and Dominic accompanying Mark on his various road racing exploits.

And with Mark expecting to hang up his racing leathers in the not-so-distant future, he is over the moon Dominic has shown interest in making his way in the sport.

It was an opportunity for Mark to reflect on his long career, which saw him named North East champion for the first time back in 1988 on his 350cc Yamaha.

Mark knows only too well the passion and the thrill the sport provides – itching to get straight back onto his bike after being out of action for 12 months, which included him being in a wheelchair for a while, after a crash at Oulton Park in 2012!

Up until his retirement from the sport, he will be racing top riders on vintage motorcycles in the classic category.