After a few too many pints, I spoke to Ryan Vickers, a National Superstock 600 rider who is more than certain to be in the running for race wins throughout the remainder of the season. Under the guidance of former Grand Prix winner Alan Carter, he is improving all the time and despite a tricky weekend in Scotland, he looks forward to going to his home round at Snetterton in just under two weeks time. Here’s what he had to say about a range of topics and his own career.
What do you need to do to make the next step forward in Superstock 600?
Well, at Snetterton, I want to get on the podium. We had a test there last week and we was in the top two, also because it is my local circuit. I’ve just got to aim for the highest position I suppose and see where we go from there. We’ve got to keep working in order to see the best and be the best and keep moving forward.
What got you into motorcycle racing?
My dad to be honest. He finished 4th in the world wheelie competition. I just got on a motocross bike and rode around in field. I started my first ever race when I was 7; I got a 3rd in the first race, a 2nd in the second race and a win in my third. I carried on with motocross up until a couple of years ago, when I switched to the tarmac and stayed ever since.
Where do you see yourself come the end of the season?
Towards the end of the season and especially the next six races, we will be pushing for higher results. I’ve got my worst circuit out the way now so now, we are aiming for top fives and trying to get championship points. It is a long championship so we’ve just got to keep pushing but we hope for a top five at the end of the championship. We came into Knockhill 7th in the championship and dropped to 10th which isn’t very good, but we can focus now on recovering that.
Who is your main rival in 2017?
There’s two riders who are dominating this year: Dan Stamper and Tom Oliver. They’re way ahead in the title and if I can consistently stay with them or beat them then that’s a good objective and quite helpful in progressing up the order in the championship.
What is your end goal?
As you know sometimes it can change because the main goal doesn’t necessarily work out. I’d love to go the Spanish route, via Moto2 and then into the MotoGP paddock. I rode a Moto2 bike in Spain in February and it was absolutely awesome. You’ve got to take the routes that open door and I’m open to all options, whether they be BSB or World Supersport or World Superbikes. As long as I conquer the classes I’m in so I can progress to the top I’m happy.
What’s your opinion on Moto2 being phased into BSB to be raced alongside the British Supersport?
I definitely think that it should be phased in because it’s sort of the way everything is going and it’s a stepping stone. It would make a great intermediate class. I think there should be another route as well for aspiring Superbike riders. Moto2 in BSB is going to be awesome because young riders – like myself – who want to jump on a Moto2 bike and go to the World or Spanish championships need a stepping stone like Moto2. It’s a good thing also with the price, because no matter what class you pick at that level will be expensive no matter what way you look at it. Being on Moto2 bikes will be more supported by small companies because it’s more looked at. It will be good to see how well it comes along as a route to MotoGP?
Are you more interested in going to MotoGP or World Superbikes?
My preference is definitely MotoGP? I like the whole prototype aspect. MotoGP is the pinnacle of all bike racing. I don’t really know why if I’m honest, it is just more my route, however, getting to World Superbikes would still be a mega, mega achievement.
World Superbikes has declined in the last few years – why do you think that is and how would you improve that?
That’s a hard question. They’ve tried bringing it back to life with the starting grid reform for race 2, which I support a bit, but also disagree with a bit. Rea, Davies, Melandri etc are all coming through and it all finishes the same at the end. I am more pro-reverse grid than anti-reverse grid. It does make it a lot more interesting because you don’t always know how well they will come through. Especially, the first round they did it because you asked yourself ‘can they really do it?’. It has become almost boring in a way, because you know the results by the time certain riders have come through. So maybe one way to get people interested into WSBK would be like a production line into that series, to give them more young riders. Like I’ve said, WSBK seems to be more of a dead end and maybe there needs to be another step up at the end of that. One thing it does need is maybe more personalities. It would be nice to see someone like Rea pushed up to MotoGP and give someone else a chance
With the proposal of the controlled ECU for 2018, would that maybe discourage Kawasaki and Ducati from coming into the championship?
No, I don’t think so, because they’re top class manufacturers who will always find ways around it. It’s definitely going to make it closer because in the British championships – where the rule is already in place – a variety of people can win the races, as we saw this weekend. It might make it closer but again, you can’t take it away from Chaz or Jonny, as they are unbelievable riders.
Would you say there are too many Brits in WSBK?
WSBK is not a dying class but it hasn’t really progressed. It’s come to a little bit of dead end. Hopefully things like the World Supersport 300 class will revitalise it a little bit. It’s been a very successful class I’d say. It has a massive grid and a massive range of talent on the grid. They’re all on identical machinery. It gives young riders the chance at a cheaper rate than Moto3 or Moto2, to be successful. They’re in the right paddock and can travel the world and also gives the sponsors the opportunity to progress. It’s a great stepping stone on a road-go bike and is great for the manufacturers too. It’s great for race craft, like in Imola where you’ve got a massive battle for the lead.
Do you think the British Talent Cup will be as successful?
I do support it, and I don’t support. I think the age limit should be expanded a bit because whilst they’re trying to promote riders to Moto3, the majority of the top Moto3 riders are in their 20s. It cancels out people like me. I’m 18 and kind of in the mid-ground where there’s not many opportunities to progress and that’s hard. I came into short circuits late and it’s hard to get in the GP paddock at an older age, even though I’m not really that old. There is still time. I dont feel like there’s much support for my age group. I’d probably have to take the old fashioned route through BSB, WSBK and then onto MotoGP. I can’t even apply for Red Bull Rookies. It is good that they have taken an insight into Britain though, because we as a country haven’t really been pushing talent through.
Do you think Superstock 600 in BSB should be promoted more?
Yes. I definitely think so, arguably more than Supersport because there stock class is more or less completely off the shelf, give or take a few mods to make it safer for racing. Pushing the Superstock 600 class might possibly even make the sales of 600cc bikes go up, even though some might say it’s a dying class.
Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko