Rainey returns with a little help from his friends
Ryan Rainey hung up his leathers, somewhat disillusioned with the sport of motorcycle racing back in 2007, aged just 27, but after working in British Superbike and MotoGP as a mechanic, he's now back on the grid thanks to a loyal sponsor and few high profile friends, including top professional riders the Laverty brothers, Eugene and Michael.
"The return to racing all started out as a bit of a joke, if I'm honest," said Rainey, whose interest in motorcycle racing began as an eager 11-year-old schoolboy, when he used to clean local road racing hero James Courtney's Team Wood machinery.
Now furnished with a high-tech Yamaha YZF-R1M to compete in the Irish Superbike class, thanks to Graeme Hanna at IFS Global Logistics, Crumlin ace Rainey is delighted to be back in the saddle.
"It took me a while to get going again as you can imagine, not having raced for eight seasons, but now I'm back I'm enjoying it better than ever, without the pressure of wondering where the next chunk of budget is coming from to go and do a British championship round," confided the Crumlin man, who runs a small logistics business.
"There's no pressure any more. It's back to being fun. It's strange, as all those years ago it was all about making a career from it and if I'm honest that took the enjoyment away from racing; whereas now I'm running a business and looking after my family.
"I am just as committed. It's just not everything in my life," was how the 34-year-old father of two explained it. But then a three stone weight loss is testament enough to his dedication to get back to winning ways.
"I saw the PBM Motorsport guys last weekend at the Ulster Grand Prix and I think they were shocked how much weight I'd lost," explained Rainey (pictured), who worked as a crew chief to Australian Broc Parkes in the global series last season for the PBM squad.
"Budget was tight at PBM last season, so there were no fancy dinners for the team, we dined out on fast food like McDonalds, sometimes more than once a day," said the Ulsterman, who believes his time on the tools and not in the saddle, has helped him gain a better insight to the sport.
"I'm lucky to have worked with the likes of Alastair Seeley, Cam Donald and Bruce Anstey during my time at TAS Racing, and obviously Broc last season in MotoGP, but I don't miss the travelling - it's not all its cracked up to be," he said.
So how did a former racer get himself back in the paddock after an eight-year sabbatical (and in shape) on one of the most coveted bikes on the grid?
"I was on holiday in Tenerife and a friend and sponsor, John Moffatt of Balmoral Furniture, was saying, 'when is the big come back?' I spoke to Graeme Hanna when I got back about getting a new Yamaha, and that was it," said the Crumlin man, who has also had some top class help getting the new R1M set up.
"Eugene and Michael Laverty spent a day with me at Kirkistown and Phil Marron, who is married into the Laverty family and also works with Eugene in MotoGP, was dialing in the settings," was how Ryan explained it.
But he also had three of the world's leading chassis, engine and suspension technicians on the other end of Phil Marron's phone.
Although it all proved worthwhile, as he went on to win the following weekend at Kirkistown.
Currently third in the Irish Superbike Championship, Rainey and his IFS Yamaha team head to Bishopscourt this Saturday for the Adelaide Masters Series, where the Crumlin man would like to see more local support.
"There's great racing in the Irish championship and Adelaide Masters Series, but it just needs a bit more promoting," said Rainey.
"This weekend with Nico Mawhinney and Davy Haire coming along to challenge, there will be six or seven of us fighting for wins and it will be the same in the Supersport class."
Entrance to The Adelaide Masters Series at Bishopscourt on Saturday is just £10(under 16s free of charge) and it should provide a great day of entertainment in all classes from 11am.