Mike Browne gears up for 2021 road racing season

It's hard to believe that since the curtain came down on the 2019 road race season there's only been 1 road race in the national series with thanks to the perseverance of the organisers of the Cookstown 100. However that race was the first time we saw CMRVC Clubman Mike Browne show his mettle on board the RK Racing Burrows Engineering Yamaha R6. Luckily for us, Mike took some time out of his busy work life to keep us up to date on the season ahead. What I meant of course is I was talking to Mike while he was mowing a field in the office of the Fendt so we very much appreciate him giving us his ear for the chat!

Mike keeping himself bike fit at home on the farm!

Working on his uncle's rural dairy farm certainly keeps him busy the whole year round despite the pandemic, but he has found a new a way to keep sharp with a new grá for pedal power having taken up cycling. Thankfully for us he hasn’t swapped the leathers for the Lycra just yet but Mike is fortunate enough to have a patch of scrub land which doubles as his a motocross track in his backyard so to speak and that’s kept him bike fit during the forced lay off. While fitness isn't the be all and end all for him he maintains a good 20 minute blast on the motocross bike is all he needs to keep the eye in for the roads.

Mike took us back to the business end of the 2019 season and how it came about that John Burrows looked to secure his services in the RK Racing team. John had spoken to Mike after Skerries about a seat being available with the Dungannon outfit. The timing couldn't have been better as Mike finished out the road race season by taking his maiden National road race victory. While he mentioned there were a few absentees from the entries he still came out on top of over the likes of Micko, Maxwell and Tweed. John had a few more bits and pieces to iron out as Mike put it but shortly after a deal was struck between the pair for 2020. Mike reckons his TT results helped convince John to sign him up given for any road racers the TT is the pinnacle. Lest we forget in his maiden TT campaign Mike secured 2 top 20 finishes in the Supersport races both as a newcomer and privateer with practically no support only from a few personal sponsors and the help of his mechanic Haydn Walsh which was a staggering achievement. Add to that he also lapped at 120.911mph which is an astounding achievement in your maiden year on a 600.
Mike with team-mate Paul Jordan (R) and team manager John Burrows (C) and his son Jack

Looking back now it's hard to imagine how the 2020 season would be decimated so badly but such is the nature of what we're living with. The Cookstown & District Motorcycle Club were fortunate to run last year and we saw Mike don the RK Racing leathers for the first time in anger. Since then has there hasn't much opportunity to run the bikes again but a trip to Kirkistown for a track day last month proved invaluable for Mike and team mate Paul Jordan ahead of the reduced road racing season. Speaking about the track-day he confessed to feel nervous enough about throwing the leg over again after the layoff but after a couple of laps it felt like he was never out of the seat and the times were improving as the laps added up.

There's finally hope for the road race fan across the Irish Sea later on this week with a bumper entry for the Spring Cup at Oliver's Mount. Scarborough have planned a full program of racing to look forward to this summer/autumn with 4 meetings in total. It will be Mike's first time competing there and he is relishing the opportunity to get back out on the roads against some of the best in the business. Admittedly he would have liked a bit more track and bike time but given the current restrictions any racing is a bonus.
Mike flying high on the RK Racing R6 at the Coosktown 100 road races in 2020
Road racing matters at home will be centred around the Cookstown 100 and Armoy as they remain the only road races on the calendar in Ireland for 2021. Mike is still fortunate to have another championship winning team at his disposal having done a deal to ride the iconic Joey's Bar racing 125 under the management of Gary Dunlop for the last time as this season will be the last campaign after over 10 years racing for the Ballymoney team. We'll also see Mike back in action on the short circuits as John has given a commitment to compete in the tarmac championships both North and South where they don't clash with the road races which are the priority for Mike and the team.
Sure enough when I put it to him if he had any goals or aims for 2021 the charisma shone through and he said he's just going to go with the flow! For him the primary focus is the TT and having had a Manx GP dogged with mechanical problems then to step up to the TT the following year only to be deprived of laps thanks to terrible weather Browne is keen to get a steady TT under his belt to find his feet again as we know from the results that stand the ability and talent is there to challenge at the top. On the National scene he hopes to be on the podium more regularly so long as he put it himself, "Some of the older lads get a bit of sense after the time off and slow down a bit and give some of the younger lads a chance to take some of the prize money!" So long as he's getting faster too he'll be happy as he felt things we're just starting to click before COVID came upon us so a return to that pace and quicker is the goal.
With the combination of an impressive line-up of machinery at his disposal, the hay saved and the maize set, few would bet against the Cork man to be at the sharp end of the spear for the upcoming meetings and in to 2022. From all at the Club we wish Mike the very best for the season ahead and a special word of thanks to Rod Neill of Bikesportphotos for the use of his photos also.

Donal J. Arnold CMRVC PRO