Peter Hickman 'could be a future contender', says former British Superbike champion James Whitham
FORMER British Superbike champion James Whitham believes Louth's Peter Hickman can be a title challenger in the years to come – if he puts his 2012 nomadic existence behind him.
Hickman has barely known where to lay his helmet this season having ridden for two teams in the MCE Insurance British Superbike series as well as a one-off ride in the World Superbikes.
As a result, the 25-year-old – currently riding for the Buildbase BMW team – heads into the final three rounds of the 2012 BSB season sitting 17th in the standings.
Like much of the paddock, Hickman's future for next season is anything but secured, however, Whitham believes that with a spot of stability the Louth ace can be challenging the big boys.
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"Peter is a good rider and a nice guy. It will be interesting to see where he ends up next year because a good pre-season would be important for him," he said.
"He's definitely not ready to win a championship yet by any stretch of the imagination, but he could certainly be one of those guys to challenge for the top-six places.
"It all depends on the machinery he gets because if he stayed on a bike for a whole season he would definitely see a vast improvement on this season.
"I would say he is probably going to be disappointed with his performances this season, but I think he knows what he can do if he gets settled on a bike. It will be interesting to see whether or not he stays on the Buildbase bike or not.
"What he needs is a season or two of good, consistent results – challenging for top-ten finishes and the occasional podium. Superbikes is all about momentum, so I think he will benefit from that a bit."
But while Whitham believes Hickman needs consistency to deliver on his potential, the former British Superbike champion insists he was right to roll the dice with his BSB future earlier this year.
Hickman was sacked from former employers MSS Bathams Kawasaki in May after taking a one-off ride in the World Superbikes to replace John Hopkins, but ended the race in a hugely impressive ninth place.
"Peter lost his ride because he decided to ride in the World Superbikes, but that did him no harm," he added. "He was impressive that weekend, but, in terms of his British Superbike chances, it went against him as he had to find a new team and start from scratch."
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