How racing fanatic Wilson transformed Wayne's world
IN 2010 Balbriggan rider Wayne Hall was in dire straits approaching the final race meeting of the year, and needed a set of tyres.
Money was not there for the what was an essential part of any racer's set-up and Wayne resorted to appealing on biker.ie to see could anyone help.
His request was seen by racer, and businessman, Willie Wilson, who said he would supply them - and so started a great relationship.
Since then Willie Wilson has been backing the 25-year-old electrician, and this season they will again pair up, with Willie sponsoring a KMR Ryan Farquhar-prepared 650 Kawasaki, in their efforts to challenge for the Junior Support Irish Championship.
Wayne has decided to streamline his efforts for the new road race season, and it will see him drop his faithful 400 Honda, and ride the 650 in the Junior Support Championship, and a 600 R6 Yamaha that also belongs to Willie in the Senior Support.
Having recovered from a huge crash at the Cookstown in 2012, Wayne returned to the roads last year, and he finished the season off with a third place in the 400 Southern Centre Championship, a fourth place in the Ulster Centre 400 title, fifth in the Irish Championship and sixth in the Junior Support.
'I had a good year in 2013, and as a small team, where there are only Willie and myself, there were times that we struggled trying to keep three bikes on the grid. For example, at Mid Antrim, Willie was racing himself in the 350 classic class and broke down out on the course.
'At the same time it stated to rain, and I was left trying to sort out the tyre changes for all three bikes. We could really do with someone who has been around the race paddock that is willing to help, and this would make life so much easier,' said Wayne
Wayne's job in ESB Networks is a busy one, and despite all his work and racing, he still found time to propose to his fiancée Tara Maguire, and they have set the wedding date for May 2015.
This year Willie will again be racing, and he has purchased the 350 Drixton Honda on which Keith Costello had so much success in 2011/2012 when he won the Irish Championship in both years, as well as helping Wayne.
Despite not liking the Cookstown course, Wayne will line up on the grid in his challenge for Irish Championship points.
'I really want to hit the ground running at Cookstown. We took delivery of the new bike a few weeks ago, and I went to Kirkistown last week for a test day, and I loved the bike so much I really didn't want to go home,' smiled Wayne.
'I feel that I want to do the bike justice, as Ryan Farquhar has done a brilliant job on it, and it is so different to the SV Suzuki that I rode for a few seasons, and I am really looking forward to the challenge.'
Willie was also full of praise for the Dungannon bike-builder Farquhar. 'He started this class, and he has developed it to International status. His talents and engineering work is top class, and he has been so helpful in all our preparation.
'When I went up to him, I couldn't believe the brilliant set-up that he has in Dungannon, and I am looking forward to working with him this year.'
The Kawasaki is a proven tool in this competitive class, and Wayne knows that there will be stiff competition, and with Farquhar back in the race paddocks, he knows that help will not be too far away, should they have any problems.
Wayne's preparation will see him take part in the Adelaide Mondello Masters on the weekend of 5/6th April, before Cookstown on the 25/26th April.
Willie Wilson is also looking forward to the coming season, and while he will miss the first two road races, he is looking forward to having a good run on the Drixton Honda.
'I started racing in 1974, and went on until 1984, where I rode various bikes, including a 900 Kawasaki, a 400 RD Yamaha and a TZ 350 Yamaha, and I also rode a 500 H4 road bike in the old Mondello Endurance races.'
Willie is a self-employed gas technician, and runs his own company Gas Safety Systems from Glasnevin, and the ex Bord Gais employee is relishing the coming season, which will be a busy one for him, sponsoring and helping Wayne, and racing in the Irish road race championship, along with selected rounds of the Irish Classic short circuit championship.
Willie will also be sponsoring young Ben Kelly from Maynooth in the 125 Aprillia production championships.
When I met Wayne and Willie, they were over helping the Pearse family who are running their fund-raising night for the NRH, and he was delighted to receive sponsorship from the family for the new season.
'I am really grateful for the sponsorship that Willie has given me over the past few years, and hopefully I can do him justice this year. He has been a great help to me, and without him I just wouldn't be able to race the bikes that I have.
'I would also like to thank the Pearse family for their generous help for the coming season. Again, if there are any other sponsors out there willing to help, I would appreciate every bit of help that I can get.
'If there is a good pit man out there, that would also be a great help, so please make yourself available to me.'
•Wayne Hall will be holding his fund-raising night in the Balrothery Inn on Friday 11th April Tickets are €10 each.