By Kyle White Belfast Newsletter.
Ulster Superbike champion Carl Phillips will make his debut around the Mountain Course at the Manx Grand Prix this year for the long-established PRF Racing team.
The Lisburn man, who won the Short Circuit Rider of the Year Award (Irish circuits) at the Irish Motorbike Awards in Belfast earlier this month, is following in the footsteps of his father Joe, who previously raced at the Manx GP.
Phillips made his road racing debut in 2019 on a Paton in the Supertwin class at the North West 200, finishing eighth in the opening race.
The 26-year-old will have the choice of a 600cc or 750cc Suzuki provided by Paul Rennie’s highly-respected outfit, which was first established back in 1995.
Phillips also intends to make his debut at the Cookstown 100 in April and is planning a return to the North West 200 to compete in the Supertwin races in May.
The former British Supersport rider also will defend his Ulster Superbike title on a 2018-spec Suzuki GSX-R1000.
Phillips told the News Letter: “I’m doing the Manx Grand Prix for the first time this year and it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while because my dad raced at the event in the past.
“I want to go and support the event rather than going straight to the Isle of Man TT and it’s an exciting opportunity for me.
“I’ll be riding for a very experienced team in PRF Racing on a Suzuki for Paul Rennie and it’ll be a big help to have them behind me for my debut.
“I’ve already been over to the Island at the weekend and we managed six laps in the car,” he added.
“It’s just an awesome place and there’s so much to learn, but I’ll do my homework and we’ll be going there without any expectations – it’s just a learning year for me.”
Phillips will keep himself busy in the Ulster Superbike Championship as he bids to defend the title he won in such convincing style last year.
“I’ve got a new sponsor on board as well in DR Diesel, so that’s a big help and thanks to them for giving me their support.
“I’ve earmarked the Cookstown 100 as well on a Supertwin and I might pick and choose a few other Irish national road races.
“I want to thank Paul Rennie at PRF Racing for the chance to ride at the Manx; there’s no pressure on me and I’m just going to take my time to learn the place and build up from there.”
Team owner and former racer Rennie said his new signing would be ‘under no pressure from anyone’ when he lines up on Glencrutchery Road for opening practice in August.
“The main thing for Carl is to just enjoy it as much as he can and there’ll be no pressure on him from anyone in the team,” he said.
“I’ve known Carl for a number of years now and we always spoke to each other in the British championship paddock when we saw one another.
“He rang me up before Christmas to see what our plans were for 2020 and things progressed from there.
“We’ve not decided yet whether he’ll ride the 600 or 750 Suzuki but both bikes are identical really apart from the engine,” Rennie added.
“I’ve been running the team for 25 years now and we’ve a lot of experience when it comes to the Manx Grand Prix and TT, so hopefully we’ll be able to pass that on to Carl.
“I’m happy for him to do some BSB rounds as well or some Irish roads – he’s not just limited to the Manx. The more bike time he has the better and although the Mountain Course is a different ball game, it always helps to have as much bike time as possible.”
Welshman Barry Evans – who finished as the runner-up in the 2017 Senior Manx GP – has left the team and Rennie is on the lookout for a rider to compete in the National Superstock 1000 Championship plus the North West 200 and TT.
The Manx Grand Prix takes place from August 23 to September 4.