Burnley soldier hoping for backing to fulfil Isle of Man TT dream

Andy Bates pictured racing at the Rockingham International Speedway circuit in July
Andy Bates pictured racing at the Rockingham International Speedway circuit in July

Burnley soldier Andrew Bates is hoping to attract sponsorship to make his dream come true - to race in the Isle of Man TT.

Andrew, 30, is a Corporal serving in the British Army in the Kings Royal Hussars Regiment as a Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank Commander, stationed at Tidworth in Wiltshire.

When not in a tank, he competes in the PreNational 600 Championship in the Thundersport GB Club, riding a Yamaha R6 bike capable of 160mph.

And having served around the world, including operational tours of Northern Ireland and Afghanistan, the father of two, whose father Brian also races motorbikes, he now aims to compete in the greatest motorcycle racing event in the world.

“Blaster” Bates is a part of the British Army Road Race Team, a collective of individual racers from different units in the Army, with very limited shared resources.

Unfortunately active service personnel are given very little financial support from their respective units, and virtually all funding for racing is paid for by the individual.

With an average three-day racing weekend costing around £1,000 per event, a racer can only compete with the generous support of sponsors or individuals willing to help.

He said: “I started riding motorcycles as a child and competed in schoolboy trials on a Montesa Cota 315 250cc.

“In 2002 I was deployed to Northern Ireland so I stopped riding trials and never really took it up again until the last six months.

“I started racing again in 2009, where I competed in a the No Budget Cup novice endurance race as part of a three-man team, finishing 31st out of 45 teams. I was again forced to stop racing for training to deploy to Afghanistan in 2012 for a seven-month operational summer tour.”

Using money saved from his 2012 tour of Afghanistan, he bought his current Yamaha R6 bike and converted it from road use to a fully-formed track racing bike.

Competing in the Hottrax - Moto Grande 600 class and the Open 600 class with NG Racing Club, he now competes with Thundersport GB in the Pre-National 600 Championship.

This is Andy’s first year in competition at this level, competing as a novice in his class.

He considers 2013 to be a learning year, where he can concentrate on learning the circuits and the bike set ups.

Rockingham in July was one of his best races to date, surpassing his expectations with good solid lap time performance, and continuing his 100% race finishing record.

He finished 13th in the first race, and races two and three passed in a similar vein with a finishing position of 14th in both.

Race four proved the most fruitful, finishing a solid 10th.

His dream now is to progress into the 600 Elite class and compete across the water in the Isle of Man TT.

He has already started to prepare for the Manx GP in August 2014 as well as the North West 200.

But he needs sponsorship to help, and if anyone is interested, he can be contacted by e-mail at bates17oaks@hotmail.co.uk