Keith Amor - Another Breath of Fresh Air

‘After the 2006 Ulster Grand Prix Paul Phillips asked me if I was interested in competing at the TT – I thought about it for about three seconds and said ‘yes’’. That was the reply when I asked Keith Amor at what point did he decide to make his IoM debut in the Centenary TT. Not a surprising decision as he’d just become the fastest ever newcomer around the 7.4 mile Dundrod circuit at a speed of 126.27mph.

It’s only a couple of years since the cynics were predicting the death of the world famous road races around the Mountain Course; without doubt the Races were in decline, beset by problems, but the arrival of Keith Amor to supplement the likes of Donald, Toye, Miller, Shand, Buckley and Poole is giving the event the shot in the arm it needed and richly deserved. Expectations are high for the Scot as he will arrive on the Island with top class machinery, full technical support and a world class exponent of road racing, Cameron
Donald, as his team mate.

A superb racing package with the Uel Duncan team will give him every opportunity to fulfil his potential, not just at the TT, but in the two Northern Irish internationals as well. How did the link with the Duncan squad come about? ‘Uel phoned me a few days before the Sunflower races last year to ask if I would race the 600 and Superbike there and having never previously raced either a 600 or a Superbike I jumped at the chance. We had a great weekend with the team and things went on from there. I was really surprised how friendly and supportive everyone in the team is and I can’t wait to race with them at the TT’

Keith appeared on stage at the Villa Marina TT Press Launch in early February, introduced as a leading newcomer….when other riders flew back home after the event, Keith stayed on the Island for a further nine Keith Amor. Photo courtesy – J McGuigan, Newtownards days in his quest to learn the intricacies of racing around such a demanding circuit. ‘I intend to spend as much time on the Island as I can with as many different people as I can and would like to put in at least 100 laps or so before Practice Week. Milky Quayle, Big H and John McGuiness have all offered to take me around and I will also be going around with the Gaffer – Uel! – as he knows the place really well’.

Rise to prominence has been quite rapid; Keith’s parents were always into motor sport, primarily cars, but he and his younger brother had little motocross bikes at an early age – the bug had bitten. ‘My first race was at Knockhill in 2001 in the 1000cc Production Class. I started at the back of the grid, being a newcomer, and finished eighth. In the second race I finished one better, in seventh, but at the following two rounds had two third positions.
The round after that, I won’.

2002 started well for Keith with an eleventh in the first round of the British Superstock Championship at Silverstone and he was performing with credit in the Scottish Championship, but he was struggling so much financially that he packed up and went to work in South Africa. However, with sponsorship secured, he returned to the scene north of the border for the 2005 season. Had he lost any of his natural talent? Not at all as securing the Scottish Sports Production title illustrates.

An entry into his first big road race – the 2006 NW200 – soon followed; what a debut! An outstanding practice performance, third overall, gave him a front row position for the
Superstock race. Despite being a little detuned after being T-boned in the earlier Superbike
race, Keith managed to come home in a more than creditable sixth place in the race itself.
He was also more than pleased with his tenth position in the second Superbike race. Two
top ten positions and that fantastic time followed in the Ulster Grand Prix.

So, to the 2007 season, perhaps the most eagerly anticipated in years. In which classes will Keith be competing and where will he be plying his trade? ‘I am racing in all three classes, the 600 Supersport, 1000 Production Superstock class and the Superbikes. I hope to do Irish club meetings, the Irish Superbike Championship, various Irish road races, including the North West 200, Cookstown 100, the Tandragee 100 and the first two rounds of the British Superbike Championship’. Then it’s off to the Isle of Man; what strategies will be adopted in practice? ‘Whatever the Gaffer tells me! I will obviously be trying to learn the circuit using both sides of the road and trying to figure out the best set-up for the bikes, but thankfully I should be able to get some info from Cameron on that.’ The mention of the likeable Australian, lead me to asking Keith as to which of the current road specialists impressed him  the most….’yeh, my team mate, Cameron Donald, whose record as a newcomer to various Irish circuits last year is unbelievable and Mr McGuinness who just keeps on winning around the TT course and will be the man to beat this year; Guy Martin for his ‘balls-out’ attitude, Ian Lougher for his consistency and Bruce Anstey who, if he had more luck, would have won more internationals, I’m sure’.  Road racing enthusiasts will be following Keith’s progress during the early part of the year in eager anticipation of how well he might do at the Isle of Man TT. Expectations will be high for this stylish, level-headed racer, who fans know will treat the Mountain Course with respect, but what of the man himself  – what are his aims for his TT debut? ‘I would like to be best newcomer, but there is obviously going to be stiff competition from the likes of AIM Yamaha rider, Steve Plater and Co. I would also like to beat the fastest lap by a newcomer, but we shall just have to wait and see…..’ In the long term, what are the hopes and prospects? ‘I’m looking forward to competing in the event for many years to come…I see the TT as the pinnacle of racing on the roads and my goal would certainly be to win races around the TT circuit over the next few years’

The TT and all its fans welcome Keith Amor –another ‘breath of fresh air’ to take the event into and beyond its hundredth anniversary. I wish Keith well in achieving his goals, both short and long term, and am confident that, no matter what his results are in his first year, he will have gone about his racing in a thoroughly professionally manner. Good luck, Keith

Graham Bean