Happy news year for grounded Connel race ace

John McPhee finished the 2020 Moto3 season in the top 10.

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Connel motor bike racer John McPhee may have taken his foot off the Moto3 accelerator over the past month or so but he has still had two very good reasons to pop the champagne cork.

On Hogmanay, the world championship contender got engaged to long-term girlfriend Lauren Young.

Speaking to the Oban Times last week John said: ‘It was nice to be able to give everyone some good news at the end of what was a tricky year.’

John met Lauren, from Lochwinnoch, at an event in Glasgow while he was on a summer break in 2017 and the couple ‘haven’t looked back since’. The couple have their sights set on a 2022/23 wedding.

‘She had no idea at all about bike racing but we started talking anyway and she began to understand what I did for a career,’ he continued.

‘Things just took off from there. She was living with me in Andorra for a while but she has been back in Scotland for the last year and a half training to be a primary school teacher. She has another six months until she is fully qualified so we are both going to be busy chasing our own careers for most of this year.’

Two weeks after announcing his engagement John discovered that he had won the BSN Moto3 Rider of the Year vote by a landslide.

The Petronas Sprinta rider bagged a total of 35.79 per cent of the ballot with the next nearest rival, champion Albert Arenas, on 16.84 per cent.

‘The Bike Sport News award was a bit of surprise to be honest. I didn’t even know I was in the mix so that was a really nice surprise. I have some good supporters,’ he added.

Due to fly back to Andorra at the start of the month, John has been stuck in Connel while he negotiates the complicated Covid travel barriers.

The hope now is that he can fly back this week but he will have to isolate for two weeks before he can meet back up with his coach and teammates.

In the meantime he has been keeping himself occupied at home. A keen mountain biker, he has been spending much of his time cycling while he has also been busy learning to speak Spanish and Catalan.

‘I try to learn bits to get myself through. Catalan is very tricky so I have been concentrating on the Spanish for now. I’m not very good at holding a conversation yet but if I’m in a situation where I need to get myself out of a hole I can.’

‘I have been keeping on top of the fitness side of things while I have been here but need to get back to road training as soon as possible ahead of the first test on March 2.

John will start his 2021 World Championship bid on the Losail international circuit in Doha on March 26.