A NEW season and a new team but for Motorcycle Ace TJ Toms from Puriton, writes Alan Heal.

The challenge was the same, to regularly stand on the podium and to get his first race win in the 2019 National Superstock 600 Championship which kicked off at the weekend at Silverstone.

Last year TJ finished the season with a third position at the final round at Brands Hatch and, along with a string of other top 10 finishes, his performances were being noticed and during the winter he signed with Kawasaki UK backed Team G&S Racing.

Team boss Mark Fisher said: "TJ stood out last year as a serious challenger for the title and along with team mate Kevin Keyes we aim to give our riders the support needed to take the title."

The team spent four days testing in Spain in March for Toms to become familiar with his new Kawasaki ZX-6R race bike.

Toms said: "Despite losing one day due to heavy rain the testing was very positive and I start the season full of confidence."

Using the shorter Silverstone National Circuit at just 1.64 mile in length the fast corners and long straights make it one of the most gruelling and technical tracks on the calendar.

Hot and sunny conditions were forecast so initial bike set up would be similar to Spain although with just one left hand corner on the circuit the tyre wear would make conditions tricky.

Toms started well and completed the first of two practice sessions third quickest and improved his lap times in final practice before qualifying.

He said: "Unfortunately I slid off through Copse early into the Qualifying session so I was unable to improve my lap time on new tyres and will start 13th on the grid."

Toms made a good start but the race was immediately red flagged after three riders crashed on the opening lap and the restart would be reduced to a 15-lap race due to TV schedules.

Another good start saw Toms move through the field and he was involved in a fierce battle to eventually cross the line in eighth position.

Toms said: "I was lapping quicker than several riders ahead of me but with the reduced race distance I ran out of time to make a move.

"I will take the points and move on to Oulton Park feeling strong and fit for a win.

Team boss Fisher added: "A great start to the season with a win for Kevin and a strong top 10 finish for Toms, so the Team are full of confidence."

Toms and the team will be back in action at Oulton Park May 6 for Round 2 of the Championship - you can follow his and the team's progress at tjtoms.com, on Twitter @TJSquidge or on Facebook with TJ Toms Racing.