One of the 2002 overseas newcomers to achieve his life time ambition was Laurent Naire from Savoie in the east of France. He decided to take the "plunge", as he put it, in 1998; arrangements were made to travel over to the Isle of Man with his friend, Christophe Di Marino, but last minute change in job commitments prevented him from making the trip. Thwarted again in 2001 for well documented reasons, Laurent arrived a week before official practicing to learn the course in preparation for his 2002 debut.
Now working as a bus mechanic in Annecy, Laurent has always lived in the picturesque Alpine region of Haute Savoie and like many French competitors at the TT started his racing career in the popular hill climb events, aboard a Suzuki GSXR 1100 in 1991. Since 1995 he has been ranked in the top three in the French Hill Climb Championships every year, except two when he was fourth and fifth. Always riding Suzuki machinery for local sponsor, Cornas Moto of Annecy, Laurent naturally progressed to superbike events on the French short circuit scene, particularly the longer distance ones such as the Bol d'Or.
Aboard his brightly coloured machine painted by Billon Deco of Voiron Isere near his home, he realised his dream in finishing 41st position in this year's TT F1 Race at an average speed of 104.77mph for the six lap event. Later in the week he was the highest placed newcomer in the 1000cc Production class when finishing 46th at an average speed of just a fraction under 107mph.
Although Laurent qualified for the Senior, he had to leave the Island before the event to allow his mechanic to return to work. Nevertheless, he is well motivated for a 2003 return, not, as he says, "to race for the prizes, but just for the pleasure".
Jean Michel Prudon