MOTORCYCLE racer TJ Toms, from Puriton, faced a huge challenge last weekend as he competed in the National Superstock 600 Series for the first time.

Toms has been racing motorcycles since an early age and, most recently, in the British Motostar Championship for the last two seasons.

Although he knows the circuits well, this is the first time he has competed in the larger capacity Series.

The Superstock 600 class is eligible to riders aged 16 and above and features up-and-coming young riders ready to take the next step.

Although it is halfway through the 2017 season, Toms only turned 16 just two days before Round 7 at Brands Hatch.

With track sections called Hawthorns, Surtees, Cooper Straight and Sheene Curve, up to 20,000 spectators flock to the Kent circuit to witness close and exciting racing, and this was a chance for Toms to show his potential in front of a huge crowd and a live TV audience.

Starting the first of two practice sessions with a base set up, Toms posted a very respectable lap time to finish 23rd quickest.

Happy with the gearing on his Kawasaki ZX-6R race bike, the main concern was with suspension.

Adjustments were made but Toms was still troubled by the handling of his bike, particularly down through Graham Hill Bend where the suspension compresses and through the bumpy Dingle Dell section where it is crucial not to let up on the throttle.

For qualifying, the team made further changes but with little difference and Toms finished the session in 30th place, meaning he would start the race from row 10 on the grid.

After working late into the evening, the team made a major change to the suspension and in the morning warm-up Toms posted the fastest time, despite a few damp patches on the track.

As the race got underway it was frantic, as 40 bikes entered the first corner at Paddock Hill before dropping down the dip and climbing up to the slowest corner on the track at Druids, one of the few passing points, so it is vital to stay out of trouble.

Riders then drop down Graham Hill Bend, one of only two left-hand corners, and with cold tyres this section of the circuit can catch many riders out.

Toms kept his nerve and moved up a staggering 10 places at the end of the first lap and held 20th place for the majority of the race but lost a place on the final lap to cross the line in 21st position.

He said: “This was my first race on a 600cc bike.

“To come away with a finish just outside the top 20 is a great result considering my bike is seven years old and we are running on a very tight budget.”

Toms will be back in action at Thruxton on Sunday, August 6 and you can follow his and the team’s progress at, on Twitter @TJSquidge or on Facebook by searching for TJ Toms Racing.