There are some people who dare to dream, and then take baby steps towards it. Then, there are others – like Jenny Tinmouth – who seize their dream and do what is needed to make it real. No wonder then that the 34-year-old from Chester, UK has a stream of accomplishments to her name. She is the fastest woman to lap the mind-numbingly challenging Isle of Man TT course with an average of 119.945mph. She finished 3rd in the 2010 British Supersport Cup Championship. She has 14 wins in her career including 39 podium finishes. That’s not all. This year, she completed her first full season at the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, becoming the first woman to compete in the series. She manages her own team – Two Wheel Racing – and is a certified motorcycle mechanic.
Have you ever wanted to listen to that tiny voice within that says carpe diem? Learn from Jenny. She knows how to seize the day and live her dreams:
What is your first memory of riding a motorcycle? Who/What inspired you to go racing?
My first memory was riding my dad’s motorbike around a field with him on the back teaching me what to do. There are so many influences growing up that inspired me to go racing, it would take me ages to list them but in general, I just loved motorsports, cars and bikes.
What were/are the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated sport? Was gender ever an issue? And what role did it play in things like getting sponsorship for your team?
I never even gave it a second thought. Being a woman in a male dominated sport, bike racing was just something I wanted to do. I was a bit of a tomboy anyway. It just seemed normal and I didn’t see myself as any different to anyone else. Sponsershipwise, being a female has its drawbacks and benefits, so it evens itself out. I think, I’ve always been quite shy so was never the best at asking for sponsorship; that was more of a problem really and I just struggled on with what I could afford to do myself. Now I’ve climbed up the ladder a bit it’s much easier than it was before and I’m getting better at asking.
Tell us about the reaction from your family and your friends when you announced you were going to race in BSB.
My friends and family knew I wanted to race in British Superbikes and have done everything they can to help me get there, so I think they were just really pleased for me when I said it was all going to happen. They have been so supportive, right throughout my racing and have been there for me during all of the ups and downs, so they know how much it means to me and how much of an achievement it is from where it all began.
What are the challenges of owning and managing your own team?
It’s quite tough really, it’s a massive amount of work and I definitely try and do too much of it myself. It wasn’t so bad when I was in 125s. It was simpler back then running your own little effort, but British Superbikes is a massive commitment. There’s so much to do and keep on top of, it is unbelievable. But I really want to race in Superbikes so I’m quite prepared to take it on-board. I do like the challenge of it and seeing what we can achieve with what we have; we are super streamlined and I think, with the help of some of the best sponsors in the world and friends and family, we have done a great job this year and I can’t wait to grow our team over the winter and get back into the championship next season.
You hold the record for the fastest woman to lap the Isle of Man TT course. What was the experience like? Could you describe it? – When will we see you there again?
The TT is amazing. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s really hard to describe it. It’s like nothing else, it’s so fast and you have to concentrate so hard to not make a mistake, you know it’s dangerous and that makes it fun and massively rewarding. The sense of achievement racing there is huge and the atmosphere of the whole island during the fortnight with all the spectators and motorbikes everywhere makes it the best place on earth. I don’t know when I’ll be back as it costs a lot of money to race there, as well as all the preparation and time off work, so trying to do it as well as the time off and effort needed to do BSB is not possible at the moment.
Last season, you transitioned from the Supersports to the Superbike category. 2012 was your first complete Superbike season. What was the experience like? What were the challenges?
The main challenges were solving issues with the bike and learning our way around suspension setup as it really matters on a Superbike. It’s been an amazing experience and I feel privileged to be racing in the British Superbikes. It’s really hard. I’m up against world-class riders, my heroes! To be 2 or 3 seconds off their times and to be able to compete is a dream come true and I can’t wait for next season to improve on what we’ve learnt this year.
You work as a motorcycle mechanic, you run your own team, you work on your own motorcycles, and then you race them. What drives you through it all?
I wanted to go racing and do well so desperately, I trained to be a motorcycle mechanic so I could look after my own race bike and so I could get a job to pay for my racing. I’m pretty determined when I decide to do something and I’ll never give up. I love getting stuck in and seeing what can be achieved. That drives me through everything.
What are the lessons you have taken away from the 2012 season? And how will it help you approach the next season?
I’ve learnt a lot this year; where my bike is good and not so good and what I need to focus on over the winter. We have a stock motor in at the moment so we can improve that and I know now what I need to learn technique wise to suit the Superbike and get the most from it and how much physical training I need over the winter to improve for next year.
When you do decide to stop racing, do you see yourself becoming a team owner manager of 2WR fielding other riders in different championships?
I would love to. I really want to help riders that are so obviously good, but just don’t have the money to fulfil their potential. It’s a proper, tough, old sport, massively financially driven which makes it unfair. I’d love to be able to even it out a bit, with a funded team supporting good riders that didn’t have to pay for their seats, that would be great.
In racing terms what is your ultimate ambition?
I’d really like to be at the front in British Superbikes, I would do anything pretty much. I just need to keep working at it, keep trying to get sponsorship to improve my bike, to go testing and to improve myself and keep working away. I can’t wait for the next season. I have a plan for the winter and we’ll just see how things go next year, but to definitely be up at the front is the plan for now.
Pictures of Jenny courtesy Jenny Tinmouth
Image of Jenny Tinmouth racing at the 2012 BSB Championship courtesy Tim Morson. Please contact him for re-use.