West Winch racer set for one final season

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It will be the end of an era this season as Peter Baker hangs up his leathers after an illustrious career spanning three decades.The West Winch two-wheel racer will step down from his bike, aged 65, at the end of the current racing campaign.Baker will ride his brace of Kawasaki ZX10 superbikes in the MRO Powerbike Championships for one final season before bringing the curtain down on a big part of his life.The multiple champion, who begins his 2024 chapter at Brands Hatch on March 16, has never looked back since taking up racing competitively at the age of 36.Baker told the Lynn News: “It is going to be very tough and saddening to give up my racing, having consumed my life for the last 30 years.“What people generally don’t know or see is the commitment it takes to the gym every other day, before work, and then constantly maintaining the bikes in the evenings after work.”Trying to secure funding to be able to even be out there, recovering from the inevitable accidents that are part of this sport, but I wouldn’t change a thing.”I’ve had a long and very successful career. In the future, I hope that I can find a place in the sport where I can help and pass on my experience, whether it is bike set up and mentoring tutoring of riders.”Having ridden motorcycles on the road since the tender age of 17, Baker’s breakthrough in the sport came when joined Newmarket Motorcycling Club, racing a Honda CBR600 at RAF Sculthorpe and RAF Raynham.In 1996, a few laps of Snetterton on a proper circuit gave him a real taste of what was to follow.Less than 12 months later, he picked up the 1997 New Era MCC Championship at the first attempt and continued to win multiple titles with the New Era Club until 2001, also competing in selected rounds of the British Championships.In 2002, he moved up to the 1000cc class for the first time on a Suzuki GSXR 1000, claiming several championship wins and runners-up berths through to 2009.Seven years later, his remarkable resurgence continued as he picked up the MRO Powerbike crown and followed it up with success in the Thundersport GB.Just for good measure, he also picked up the Champion of Brands Hatch and Champion of Snetterton accolades to complete perhaps the most successful year of his long career.Another Thundersport GB title followed in 2012 before making the transition to BSB Superbikes in 2014 at the age of 55.Baker qualified on his own merit and didn’t just bring up the numbers, competing against seasoned and factory-supported riders and teams.The pressure and the funding proved too much and the West Norfolk speedster turned his attentions back to the MRO Powerbikes a year later, romping to the title with plenty left in the tank.The highs and lows of the sport were again demonstrated in 2016, where Baker crashed out in the last round with the Championship at his mercy.A series of second places in the championship took him up to the Covid years before a last race crash at the MRO Powerbike Championships in 2022 left him with a badly broken leg, wheelchair-bound and unable to walk for four months.Due to the injury, he was unable to compete in 2023 until mid-season and, despite this, he still clawed his way back to sixth in the championship.Reflecting on his career, Baker said: “Every multi-championship title I have managed to win has a story and some of these went down to the wire and were very stressful until the last round.”The other highlight has to be being accepted, based on my racing CV, to compete in BSB superbikes as a 55-year-old, which made me the oldest competitor and I didn’t finish last either.”I also remember having a battle at Mallory Park with Chris Vermeulen who went on to do MotoGP. Ian Hutchinson was another rival before he achieved his successes at the TT.”He added: “With every high there are lows. missing out on championships were always painful to accept after all the hard work, but made me more determined to put it right.”Baker thanks all of his sponsors, past and present, for their backing, his close friends Tony and Judith Stannard and his long-suffering wife Shiela for all of her understanding and support.

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