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British presence at a premium in 2011

British presence at a premium in 2011

Eight riders across all three classes of the World Championship this season represents the highest number of full-time British entrants in 22 years.

British fans will have plenty to cheer during the 2011 MotoGP World Championship season, with eight riders across all three categories providing a promising spread of home-grown talent to support.

With Cal Crutchlow making his World Championship debut in MotoGP, Scott Redding, Bradley Smith and Kev Coghlan in Moto2 and Danny Webb, Danny Kent, Taylor Mackenzie and Harry Stafford competing in the 125cc category, this will be the first season since 1989 that eight British riders have taken part in Grand Prix racing on a full-time basis.

With such a promising increase in this year’s number of riders motogp.com spoke to some of the British journalists in the MotoGP paddock, to gather their opinions on the proliferation of such talent – five of the riders have incidentally come through the Red Bull MotoGP Academy and two through the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup – and what they are most excited about seeing.

Gavin Emmett, motogp.com commentator:

"It’s great news we have this number, and also that there is representation in each class. These are riders who along the way are going to be challenging and have a good chance to do something. I think it’s deserved for the work they’ve been putting in, especially for the likes of Bradley Smith making the move up and Cal Crutchlow who’s had a great last couple of years. It’s just reward for them all having put the effort in. I’m sure riders like Smith have had the opportunity to go and ride in British Superbikes, but they’ve stuck at it in MotoGP and are keen to get on in GP racing.

“(Such high numbers of participation) comes from getting involved in the GP set-up or on GP style bikes from a young age, which is what happened with Smith and Redding, and Danny Webb. And you have the likes of Taylor Mackenzie and Danny Kent who have come through the Rookies Championship too. So it’s about getting people in the GP paddock to see them. Also what you need is British sponsorship and British teams, as I think there is a desire to have British riders in the paddock. This kind of thing runs in cycles – if you get a bit of success the sponsors will think they need to be involved, and they will come back. It just takes time. It all needs to click, just like it has for Spain over the last few years, and they have some great riders, sponsors, a lot of people involved in the paddock and World Champions in every category.

“This year I’m excited about seeing Cal Crutchlow in MotoGP because I think he’s a talented guy and is really feisty. He has a different character to some of the other riders that we have had. I think he will be interesting to watch, and it’s a big step up. I think the one to watch will be Scott Redding and I think he’ll finish the highest of all the Brits. Bradley Smith may need a bit of time to adjust to the Moto2 bike but I think by the end of the year he will be up there.”

Steve Parrish, BBC MotoGP commentator:

“I think this level of British involvement generally stems back from a lot of work the British Auto Cycle Union has done with the academy systems. I think everyone realised about 10 years ago we had some major issues in the UK and that there was nobody coming through, and starting at a young age. Credit also must go to Red Bull for the Rookies Cup too, for bringing riders along. I’m very proud there will be eight riders out there, and it is quite significant when you bear in mind that people in the UK don’t ride motorcycles at a young age, or not many do these days. We have to pick from a small pot compared to countries like Spain and Italy.

“I think a lot we can do is make sure how well the British riders are doing gets publicised in the national press. We struggle to do that, motorcycling is a minority sport in the UK. We just need to keep trying to keep the sport in people’s minds, because if youngsters see a lot of young British riders doing well it entices them into the sport.

“I’m very excited at seeing Cal Crutchlow in MotoGP. A lot of people say he’s not ready for it but I disagree – I think the sooner you get into MotoGP the better so I’m very keen to see that. I think the one to watch is probably Danny Kent. I think he has a great future in front of him, he’s a smart kid who’s very polite and he has all the ingredients to go a long way, and I think Scott Redding will perform the best of all the Brits if you’re talking about Championship rankings. He’s proved that he’s a battler and he is with a very good team.”

Matt Roberts, BBC MotoGP reporter:

“I think this level of British rider involvement is recognition on an international scale of the progress being made by British riders and the talent they’ve shown. The way that Bradley Smith and Scott Redding have performed in recent years has maybe made teams look at British riders in a different way as genuine potential and worth investing in. I think we still don’t have enough British backed riders in terms of sponsorship and team structure, but thankfully there are now Spanish and Italian teams looking towards British riders and recognising their talent.

“I’m really excited about Scott Redding in 2011. As a spectator I think he’s the most natural rider. He’s spectacular, some of the moves he was making on experienced guys like Toni Elías and Alex de Angelis last year were phenomenal, and people forget he’s only just turned 18. He still has a lot to learn and obviously a long way to go, but I just think his potential is huge. He’s good fun as well and a good character, and if he can pick up where he left off last season there’s no reason why Scott can’t be fighting for the Championship. I also think Bradley Smith has massive potential, and he’s proved that. Especially in the second half of the season I think we can hope to see him up near the front as well.”

Nick Harris, motogp.com commentator:

“I think this shows there’s a lot of young talent in Britain and now it seems to be being nourished the way it should and pointed it in the right direction, which is towards 125cc racing and that’s very important. There is great talent there, as has been shown by Scott Redding and Bradley Smith in recent years, and it is at the highest level.

“What we need to do is produce a World Champion. If we could do that in any class, but particularly in MotoGP, the sport would explode in this country as it did many years ago with Barry Sheene. I think we are on the right road now with Bradley Smith and Scott Redding in Moto2 and of course Cal Crutchlow coming into MotoGP. The level has stepped up with eight British riders across all classes, but now it needs some real success to take the next step.

“I’m very excited about the two riders in Moto2. Scott Redding, with a lot of experience, will surely win a race this season and push towards a top three finish in the Championship. I thought he was fantastic at the end of last season. Bradley Smith is a Grand Prix winner, has been very good in the 125s, and I think he will take a bit of time to find his feet but that will happen. It’s going to be tough for Cal Crutchlow coming from Superbikes to MotoGP but by all accounts and from what I’ve seen of him he is very determined and very willing to learn, which will be important. We’ve seen what Danny Webb and Danny Kent can do last season, and Taylor Mackenzie will be interesting to watch. From the inexperienced to the experienced, it is brilliant!”

Tags:
MotoGP, 2011

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