A WAKEFIELD speed demon is revving up for a big 2013 on the track after making a name for himself in just his first full year in British motorsport.
Joe Barton, 21, came motoring on to the scene last year with a second-placed finish in the Bridgestone Thundersport500 Championship.
His storming success has resulted in him stepping up a level this year, with a place competing in the higher-class British Sportsman Elite 600s.
It marks the next step towards Barton’s ultimate dream of riding in the British Superbikes Championship and he knows just how important 2013 will be.
“It’s a big year for me, a bit of a make or break season,” he said.
“Last year was fantastic for me to do as well as I did in the Thundersport500s but this year the bikes will be more powerful - they’ll be the fastest bikes I’ve competed on.
“The riders will also be more experienced. They’ll all be riders like me, who are looking to do well to continue their progression so it’s going to be a tough year.”
The former Cathedral High School pupil, affectionately known as Joe “Spartan” Barton in racing circles, is a relative newcomer to the sport.
He got his first bike, a 50cc model, from a friend after he turned 16 and his interest has grown from there.
It prompted a meeting with Dewsbury-based HB Motorcycles, who he still rides for, about competing on the track and he entered into the Thundersport500s at the end of 2011 to test the water.
He made his debut at Cadwell Park, in Lincolnshire, and it was a debut he will not forget in a hurry - but only because it all went wrong.
“It was a case of going into my first race with my eyes closed a bit, I didn’t know what to expect,” said Barton.
“It was actually going well but then the rain started and we had no wet tyres, so I just couldn’t stay on the bike.
“It was all a bit of a learning curve for me and the team.”
Despite the round to forget Barton continued until the end of the 2011 season, competing in five rounds, and his hard work and endeavour paid off with a victory at Mallory Park, near Leicester.
He went away to prepare for his first full year in the competition last year and he took it by storm.
“It was a tough start to the year, the first round was a bit of a disaster because I’d qualified in first and it just all went downhill from there,” he admitted.
“But I knew I could compete well with the budget we had and get podiums and wins and I managed to do that.”
Barton secured eight wins and 16 podium finishes to secure second overall.
He is now looking to continue that top form into a higher class, with the help of HB Motorcycle duo Don Carcas, himself a former racer, and Johnny Lawler.
“I’m still looking to get into the top five next year despite the step up,” he said.
“My ultimate aim is to go on to compete in the National Superstock 600 and the British Superbikes - I’m the right age to do it.
“Hopefully I can prove I can do that with a good year this year.”
Barton, whose day job is in Leeds as a HGV mechanic for a worldwide logistics company, will travel to Spain this month to test his new-look bike on the practice track ahead of the new season.
His career is currently all self-funded, although he does get assistance from his team, and he is looking for sponsorship to help boost him up the motorsport ladder.
Last year’s competition cost him £5,000 and his costs are expected to double this year.
Anyone interested should contact Joe on 07769 357970 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See this week’s Wakefield Express for all the latest sports news from around the district.