Korie McGreevy: 'No airs or graces' for Ballynahinch rider who became British champion
"We had no airs or graces. My boss lent us a van and we had an awning, a tool box and sleeping bags. No big hospitality marquees or motorhomes where we were concerned."
With his long, flowing gold locks Korie McGreevy has the look of a motorcycling superstar - and the talent to match - but the Ballynahinch man emphasises that there was little glamour involved as he raced his way to the British Superstock 600cc title on something of a shoestring budget in 2019.
The 22-year-old snatched the title in dramatic, unlikely circumstances at Brands Hatch in October, taking victory in the final race of the final round to overturn New Zealander Shane Richardson's 19-point lead.
In doing so, McGreevy emulated the achievement of celebrated compatriots Lee Johnston, Keith Farmer and Jamie Hamilton, who triumphed in the same series.
"For most of the races it was just me, my girlfriend and my girlfriend's dad. Occasionally my employer or my wee brother also came over with me but generally I only had one or two people helping me at each round so it's not as if I had a big team around me," explained McGreevy.
"I was grateful to have those people there though to help me achieve what I wanted to achieve.
"I've been a precision machinist since leaving school at 16 so I was coming home from a race weekend and straight to work on a Monday morning."
From crashing on every corner to championship wins
McGreevy's experiences on two wheels got off to an inauspicious start at just six years old as he crashed on every corner on the first lap of his first mini-moto race in 2003 - but he soon enjoyed an upturn in fortune and secured numerous championship successes on the miniature motorcycles.
"I wasn't the most natural kid at the start but within a couple of races I got the knack of it and within a year or two I was winning Irish championships, four or five of them in the end.
"I raced mini-motos for a couple of seasons against the likes of BSB rider Josh Elliott and road racing star Adam McLean, before moving on to bigger bikes at the age of 12.
"My record of being the youngest ever winner of an Irish Championship event at 12 still stands and I went on to win some sort of championship in every class I have competed in from 125ccs, to Supertwins, and then Supersports."
Career turning point
McGreevy finished second in the 2017 Ulster and Irish Supersport Championship and midway through his 2018 campaign he decided to make a one-off appearance at a British championship round at Knockhill, a move which marked a turning point in his career.
"I went to Knockhill as it was the nearest venue to home and I ended up winning the race," outlined the County Down man.
"After that me and a couple of sponsors got together and agreed that I would do a few more rounds as a wildcard.
"I got onto the podium in each of the three rounds I did after that and that gave me the bit of momentum and incentive I needed to do the full season in 2019."
'Putting everything on the line'
McGreevy rode an IMR-prepared Century Racing 675cc Triumph last year and although his season ended up being a successful one, the first few rounds provided little cause for optimism.
"I crashed out of the lead at the opening round at Silverstone and was disqualified at the second round at Oulton Park for a non performance-based part so things were looking dire to say the least - it was not the best start to the season.
"I won the next round at Donington and was fairly consistent after that, bagging a fair few second places.
"Everything was going well until the penultimate round when I had a huge crash and I thought that my championship hopes were realistically over. My ribs are still feeling the effects of that one.
"Then I went to Brands Hatch and crashed out in both free practice and qualifying, but in the race I just rode the race like it was my last and it ended up paying dividends. Everything played out in my favour.
"I put everything on the line, did everything I needed to stay in front, and it was only after I crossed the line that I became aware that I had done enough to win the title."
Supersport challenge ahead in 2020
McGreevy will move up to the British Supersport class in 2020 and has ambitions to ultimately compete on the larger capacity 1000cc machines.
"My aim is to be challenging at the front in British Supersport in 2020. It's a very competitive class but I want to be a podium contender and on the right day I could maybe push for the win.
"I still have a lot of learning to do and it will be a big challenge for me but I believe I'm more than ready for it. I'd like to be on a Superbike in the future," added Korie, whose brother Kia is also a distinguished racer.
"Kia is two years younger than me and so started a couple of years later but he has won the same mini-moto championships and anything I can do to help him I do.
"We are very close and ride bikes together a couple of times a week. Anything I have done Kia has done a couple of years later. I genuinely believe we haven't seen the best of him yet."