Cheshire Mouldings FS-3 Racing Kawasaki confirm Max Cook to BSB for 2023

Darren Fry and Nigel Snook of FS-3 have doubled down on their commitment to bring on the youth of our sport with the announcement that Max Cook, the 2022 winning Junior Superstock Champion will ride for the team in British Superbikes in 2023.

Max Cook – Cheshire Mouldings FS-3 Kawasaki

The latest news from within the successful 2022 Motorcycle Live event saw the announcement of Max Cook and FS-3 Kawasaki.

The 2022 season was a dominant one for Cook. 9 wins saw him go on to wrap up the Superstock 600 title and as reward for that hard work and dedication, he will line up next to FS-3 Kawasaki stalwart, Lee Jackson on the grid next season in a move that echos the signing of Rory Skinner in 2020. A move which saw him learn, develop and ultimately move on to the Moto2 category from under the wings of FS-3 racing team.

Team owners and operators Darren Fry and Nigel Snook have made no secrets of their desire to run a team that prioritises winning the British Superbike Championship, but at the same time has an eye on bringing through the talent of tomorrow!

Max Cook said: “This is a dream come true for me. Firstly, I would like to thank Nigel and Darren for supporting me for six years and now, to finally be their rider is so surreal! Nigel has supported me throughout my years at Red Bull Rookies Cup, Moto3 Junior World Championship and most recently, winning the Junior Superstock 600 championship, so he knows what I can do on a bike.

“Of course, this is a big step for me, but I feel like I am totally ready for the challenge and looking forward to showing people what I can do. To have Lee Jackson as my teammate is amazing. We all know he is very fast, and he is someone that I have always looked up to, so I can’t wait to soak up his knowledge. I have already had a taste for the superbike in early October, and I’m very excited to give it the beans in a proper run out in winter testing!”

Darren Fry said: “We’ve been supporting Max for six years and have been really impressed with his progress. He’s served his apprenticeship winning the BSB Moto 3 championship in 2017, then progressing through the British Talent Cup, Red Bull Rookies and the Junior World Championship. His talent really shone through this year as he dominated the Junior Superstock Championship and made a very impressive Supersport debut at the final round at Brands Hatch.

“As a team, we pride ourselves on actively supporting young talented riders, so the decision to promote Max to ride alongside Lee Jackson fitted perfectly with our philosophy. As a front-running BSB team, it’s easy to overlook a long-term development plan in return for instant results.

“We believe every team in the paddock has the responsibility to nurture young talent to keep British riders at the forefront of world racing and show everyone that the British Superbike Championship is the strongest domestic championship in the world.

“Just coming up to his 20th birthday, Max will certainly have his work cut out getting used to the raw power of a superbike, but we’ve got a full testing plan in place for him over the winter, and he’s very excited to get going. Based on his previous experience, we don’t think it will be too long before he surprises a few people.’’

British Superbikes Oulton Park Preview – The Showdown Starts Now!

“Showdown – NOUN. A final confrontation intended to settle a dispute.” Oxford Dictionary. The dispute?  Who will lift the 2022 Bennetts British Superbike Crown?

Picture courtesy of Official BSB

This weekend Oulton Park in Cheshire plays host to the travelling Circus that is the British Superbike paddock. Despite the tents and food vendors and merchandise stalls, it’s not Clowns we are here to see, it’s Gladiators!

A motor racing venue for 2 and 4 wheels since the 50’s, the former parkland/come formal gardens were converted to the racing circuit we know and love (although it has changed a little over the years) it has been the home of many adored racing series over the year such as BSB, British Touring Cars, Formula 3 and Porsche Carrera Cup etc. Oulton Park is also a favorite venue for track day enthusiasts of many different disciplines and track day experience providers.

This weekend is the first round where all eyes are now on the championship rather than qualifying for a position in the Showdown. The podium credits have been applied and the final game of musical chairs has finished. Everyone is now fully aware of their overall position within the points standings table. There are 9 races left in the 2022 season and the overall standings have the top 8 riders separated by just 53 points. With 3 races per weekend over the next 3 rounds, there are 225 points available between Race 1 at Oulton Park and the final race of the season at Brands Hatch on the 16th of October.  So as of this moment, it really is anyone’s guess who will lift the trophy at the end of the season and put their name on the plaque under the words ‘British Superbike Champion 2022’. A title held by racing greats such as Shane Byrne, Ryuichi Kiyonari, Neil Hodgson, Niall Mackenzie, John Reynolds and more. BSB is seen as the best domestic racing series in the world and winning the grand prize takes a tremendous feat of bravery and skill.  

Coming into Oulton Park, the current series leader is Bradley Ray of Rich Energy OMG Racing Yamaha. Ray has had a stellar second half of the season and really piled the pressure on reigning champion, McAMS Yamaha’s Tarran Mackenzie. Team mate to Mackenzie is Jason O’Halloran who knows all too well the level of pressure any rider faces in the Showdown fight for the championship after slipping off his Yamaha in 2021 while occupying the top of the rider standings going into Oulton Park. Oulton Park in 2021 saw Jason O’Halloran’s title challenge take on water after 2 DNF’s which ultimately cost him the Championship.  

It’s no secret that the three Yamaha riders are seen as the favorites to lift the trophy but as we have seen before, anything can happen in the Showdown. The first thing to consider is the great British weather. At the time of writing this it’s looking like the rain will hold off although it will be mild and overcast. As a keen motorcyclist myself, I can guarantee whatever the forecast says in late September, you can assume it’s wrong or just plain lying to you. You never know what the weather is going to do when moving into British Autumn.

The second thing to consider for the Showdown are the other riders on the grid. Although anyone from 9th onwards in the overall standings is not in contention for the championship, there are other things at stake for them. With the end of the season drawing close at an alarming rate, the rumors are starting to circulate. Silly season has started and there are already rumors flying around about who will be riding for who next year. There are riders looking to impress and therefore will not think twice about their position on track and how it would affect anyone else’s placement in the championship. It is a team sport, but it’s well known the only standings the race fans keep an eye on are the individual rider standings. All the riders are battling for a seat for the 2023 season, or to be seen as doing well from spectators in other paddocks around the world. Showdown rounds are usually where you end up with riders who are not racing for the championship taking wins, podiums and top 10 positions. These situations create an unknown for the riders in the Showdown… Imagine a tangle between a couple of riders and suddenly the gap in the standing shrink and we have a new championship leader? 5th place moves to 2nd etc. A situation we have literally just seen over in MotoGP where Pecco Bagnaia has battled to bring a 91-point deficit to Fabio Quartararo down to just 10 points, aided massively by the reigning MotoGP champions DNF at the recent Grand Prix of Aragon where Pecco finished 2nd and collected 20 points.

The pressure is on for sure for 2022 glory.

Bradley Ray – Image Courtesy of Official BSB

Bradley Ray – Rich Energy OMG Racing Yamaha. Brad’s plan is simply to go out and win. Hoping to keep his title rivals behind him, and on his recent run of form it’s not a bad plan whatsoever. Get your head down and win the championship by winning every race. It’s foolproof, providing he can pull it off.

Jason O’Halloran – Picture courtesy of Official BSB

Jason O’Halloran – McAMS Yamaha. The ever-pragmatic Australian’s plan is to relax into the racing and see what the next few rounds bring. A strong season again for the McAMS rider has seen him once again in a very strong position to challenge for championship glory. Consistency needs to be the key to O’Halloran’s Showdown battle plan. Almost approach the Showdown in a race-by-race situation rather than worrying where his rivals are. O’Halloran has had a dip in form over the last few rounds which has given Brad Ray the overall lead, and I fear Jason has to hit the ground running or no matter what he does, it will all be a little too far to reach.

Tarran Mackenzie – Picture Courtesy of Official BSB

Tarran Mackenzie – McAMS Yamaha. Mackenzie has form at this point of the season after coming from behind in 2021 to dominate the Showdown and take his championship by the scruff of the neck. No doubt last year is something he aims to repeat after a dismal start to his 2022 season after suffering a broken ankle in a training crash. Tarran has great form at Oulton Park, Donington Park and Brands Hatch, although he was involved in a little skirmish with both Christian Iddon and Lee Jackson last year at Outlon, Tarran is still the man everyone is looking to now the Showdown has started.

Glenn Irwin – Picture Courtesy of Official BSB

Glenn Irwin – Honda Racing UK. Glenn has an outside chance of the championship although he will need a little bit of bad luck for his rivals, or a poor showing in terms of finishing positions in their races. The Honda doesn’t generally enjoy the Oulton Park circuit so much and Glenn also wasn’t able to finish all the races held at Oulton in 2021, but recent improvements to the bike and a boost of confidence for Irwin after a strong round at Snetterton (despite podiumgate) should give the popular Northern Irishman a spring in his step for the weekend. I’m sure deep-down Honda think the Yamaha’s will be too strong for them but I for one hope to see the Fireblade and Glenn return to the top step before the end of the year.

Lee Jackson – Image Courtessy of Oficiall BSB

Lee Jackson – Cheshire Mouldings FS3 Kawasaki. Jackson needs a return of the form that saw him claim his maiden win at Oulton Park earlier in the season. With Jackson having re-signed with the FS3 Kawasaki team for 2023, the pressure of next year is off. With Jackson free of the silly season pressure, it will hopefully lift a weight from his shoulders and allow him to attack the weekend with nothing but podiums in every race to try and pull off the underdog story of the year.

Kyle Ryde – Picture Courtesy of Official BSB

Kyle Ryde – Rich Energy OMG Racing Yamaha. Ryde is appearing in the Showdown this year for the first time. The popular Nottinghamshire rider will have no choice but to buckle in and see how it unfolds. If Ryde can return to the form from the start of 2022 which saw him take podium and race wins, there’s no reason he cannot promote himself into the top 3 positions in the standings overall. It’s fair to say Kyle has a big hill to climb to win the championship this year but nothing is impossible. Good luck to him I say and hopefully he can finish the season with a big smile on his face and plan for a new attack in 2023.

Rory Skinner – Image Courtesy of Official BSB

Rory Skinner – Cheshire Mouldings FS3 Kawasaki. Rory has had a standout season with multiple podium finishes and has done himself a grand service achieving a place inside the Showdown. Especially when you consider the grid he is racing against. He has well and truly put himself in the window for the rumoured move to Moto2 for 2023. A rumour which has gained traction since the announcement that Cameron Baubier will not ride for the American Racing Team in Moto2 for 2023 but return to home soil to race in Moto America. A move which would leave room in the team for Rory Skinner in his stead. Although nothing is yet announced, Skinner’s wild cards this year in the Moto2 paddock have come via the assistance of John Hopkins, former MotoGP and BSB rider, whom also has a lot of pull inside the American Racing team. Could Hopper be able to aid Rory’s step back up onto the world stage after falling through the crack in Red Bull Rookies? Skinner, like Ryde, will have to see how the next few races pan out and would be better concentrating on picking up a win, race by race rather than concerning himself with championship glory. A strong finish to the British Superbike season could well seal the deal / grease the wheels to his future.

Tommy Bridewell – Image Courtesy of Official BSB

Tommy Bridewell – Oxford Products Ducati. Bridewell has had a somewhat up and down season with only 5 visits to the podium so far in 2022. Tommy seems to be in a similar (albeit more successful boat) as rival Ducati riders Josh Brookes and Tom Sykes. It seems the Panigale hasn’t been able to replicate its expected run of form this year and the package has spent most of this season in the mid-pack. Bridewell has a mega battle on his hands now to be in with a shout of championship glory but after a strong end to the Showdown in 2021 saw the Oxford Products Ducati rider pip Jason O’Halloran to 2nd in the championship overall, I for one have no doubts Tommy Bridewell will make waves over the next few weekends, especially at Oulton Park.

Good luck to all the riders this weekend in every category. We are truly in for a great show.

Racing Armchair.



KRT’s WorldSBK pairing of Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes are eager to get back into testing action at the undulating Autódromo Internacional do Algarve for a two-day track session on 8 and 9 February.  Here’s what KRT have to say:

Alex Lowes Picture courtesy of KRT Provec Racing

After two winter tests at the Spanish circuit of Jerez, utilising new parts and settings for the 2022 Ninja ZX-10RR, the forthcoming on-track action in Portugal will be useful to make comparisons with all the data gathered so far at a very different circuit design.

After posting some astounding lap times, despite only riding for half a day in the previous Jerez test in January, six times world champion Rea has already demonstrated his sheer pace on the 2022 Ninja ZX-10RR. He also had the opportunity to complete a long run on which delivered pleasing results and valuable information to his team; information which has already been fed back to the KMC engineers in Japan.

Lowes has been working hard on his physical conditioning after a 2021 season affected by injury throughout. Like Rea, he has also found the two post-2021 season winter tests held so far confidence-building and useful in terms of settling on a final direction for race set-up in 2022.

The 4.592km long Algarve circuit – commonly know as Portimao – is a very popular testing and racing venue and features some of the most dramatic changes of incline and highest numbers of blind corner entries of any circuit on the WorldSBK calendar. It is scheduled as the ninth round of the forthcoming season, between 7-9 October.

After this Portimao test the team should have all the data in requires to make any adjustments and improvements before the next KRT test at Montmelo in Catalunya on March 25 and 26.

Jonathan Rea Picture courtesy of KRT Provec Racing


Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “It is nice to get back on the bike, especially at Portimao, which a track I enjoy. After our shakedown test recently in Jerez our biggest target is to reconfirm the positive items we have tested during December and January. That will give us good info, because if we can confirm these items at a couple of circuits, it means we are on the right way. The idea is just to keep building the package. I feel we have definitely improved the bike since last year. I was able to make a long run in Jerez and we found some positives with the bike and my riding style, so it is important to try and maybe focus on getting some information on how the tyres behave and the new items after many laps. Hopefully the weather is consistent and we can continue to build the package to start the season. There will also be more bikes on track at Portimao and a lot of the key manufacturers will be there testing. This is the first real test where everyone is together – which is always nice to draw some comparisons.”

Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “The recent Jerez test for me was very much a technical test, ticking off new parts. My crew chief Marcel is very technical so I had new stuff to try – just trying to analyse what is definitely better. Portimao is a track that I have always had a good feeling with on the Kawasaki and we have a good base set-up with our 2021 bike. So, to compare new parts will be quite good, because we already have a good feeling. If we can improve that with the new stuff then it should set us up well for the year. Trying stuff at two different tracks means that if it is positive at both tracks then you are a lot more confident committing to that base set-up going into a new season. It is going to be a busy test! I would like to ride as much as possible just to get back into it. I have been working really hard on my physical condition since the end of the season. That has been the biggest focus of mine because I know if I am going to be healthy it is going to make the biggest difference, no matter what changes we make on the bike. We will make a plan with Marcel in terms of how many days we are going to ride. After this test we have a big break so we are really going to have to be clear with the feedback to all the guys in Japan, and to all the engineers within the teams, so we can work hard in the break before the Montmelo test at the end of March. Portimao will be an important test and I am looking forward to getting out and seeing where we are compared to a few of our rivals.”

Guim Roda (KRT Team Manager): “Initially we didn’t have a plan to test in Portimao, because we were considering to make a test in the middle of the year. But, because we had a few points to check on the bike, we would like to compare them on different tracks. Portimao and Jerez are quite different. Also, we have a gap of one month to keep working before the next Montmelo test, ten days before the first race of the year. So, we considered this opportunity at Portimao was a good point to test again. So we joined with Ducati, who had rented the track, to make this test. For us, this is a kind of continuation of the items we tested at Jerez, to double check and confirm the direction of the bike set-up and the performance of the items we have received so far. We will do this so that we can have the best possible bike set-up, in combination with the riders.”

Kawasaki Racing Team Press Release ahead of second winter test


At the beginning of a new calendar year the official Kawasaki Racing Team will take part in a second Spanish winter test, between 26 – 27 January, with regular WorldSBK pairing of Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes eager to get back into action.

Picture courtesy of Provec Racing

The second pre-season test in preparation for the 2022 FIM Superbike World Championship will take place at the 4.423km long Circuito de Jerez Angel Nieto.

Always a popular testing venue, Jerez hosted on-track session just a few weeks ago that allowed Alex and Jonathan to evaluate some new items and settings on their official Ninja ZX-10RR WorldSBK race machines.

The purpose of this forthcoming test is to evaluate all elements of machine performance after off-season developments have been carried out, largely based on feedback from the December tests.

Six times world champion Rea has the clear mission to regain his world champion status again after finishing runner up by just 13 points last year. Having come so close to a seventh championship win Rea is as motivated as ever to find the small margins that will help him to regain his crown in 2022.

For Lowes this next Jerez test is another chance to get his 2022 preparations underway in a consistent way. This is of particular importance after a 2021 campaign that was interrupted by injury, especially with so few gaps in the season long enough to let him recover fully between rounds.

The next KRT pre-season test after Jerez is scheduled for the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, between 8 – 9 February.

Picture courtesy of Provec Racing


Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “We have two days planned at Jerez. Depending on the weather forecast, the schedule and how we get on, we may choose to use one of them and save another for later in the year. We had a very productive test at Jerez at the end of last year, so it is always good to go back and draw comparisons. The guys back at the KRT workshop, and KMC, have had a chance to go over all that data and try to improve. We will understand the results in a few days. I have been at home, really recharging my batteries. I haven’t travelled at all since my last test so it has been really productive from a preparation point of view. I am feeling refreshed and now I’m looking forward to riding again and seeing the guys.”

Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): : “I am really excited to get back to work for 2022. I’ve taken a good rest over the holidays and enjoyed some time with the new family. Now I’m feeling fresh and ready to get back to it with ‘Team 22.’ I’m interested to test some of the new stuff Marcel, my crew chief, and the guys have been working on since our last test and start building up towards the new season.”

Guim Roda (KRT Team Manager): “The forthcoming Jerez test is the first track experience of the new year. After a long winter we all have a big motivation to start our engines and go into race mode. After last December’s test KMC has been working with the inputs we gave them. We have been polishing some points to check how competitive we can be compared to 2021. Alex has had time to recover quite well and Johnny is working more than ever to start stronger in the 2022 season. We need to define many small details that we need to make some upgrades on the final race package of the Ninja ZX-10RR in 2022. Let’s see how it goes at this test.”

Jonathan Rea – The Art of Psychological Racing

As the great Julian Ryder once said about racing at the highest level: “Talent will get you onto the stage, but winning is a matter between the ears”.

Jonathan Rea at Aragon 2020. Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK

It is quite possible that Jonathan Rea has modelled his WorldSBK career on that line, and then some.

In 2020, given all the uncertainty that has gone with it, this attribute was overlooked by TV broadcasters (and in the interests of outright entertainment of the viewers, perhaps rightly so). However, as the dust has now settled on the season, it is high time to salute this remarkable, and ruthless attribute in Jonathan Rea’s arsenal:

The ability to read and control the championship.

Whilst Rea’s detractors will often highlight his supposed lack of charisma, however they cannot criticise or belittle his ability to know exactly what is needed to be done on track in any given scenario.

Few have the ability and it is the preserve of only the greatest champions: think Mick Doohan, Valentino Rossi or Carl Fogarty in the motorbike world – Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost from Formula 1. Jonathan Rea is the same.

They do not “see red” when a rival overtakes them. They do not panic and adopt a “win it or bin it” attitude. They can even accept that some days they will not be spraying the champagne on the podium.

That last one may come as a surprise to some, but it is true.

Michael van der Mark, Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes at Magny-Cours WSBK 2019. Image courtesy of Yamaha Racing

Immediate glory on the track, these few know, pales in comparison to lifting the championship trophy at the end of the season. Their place in the standings is the only thing that matters.  It consoles them, when a race weekend heads south. You can see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices when they give answers either on the grid or in the interviews in the build up to race day.  They are fixated on it. It’s the obsession which pushes them further than the others.

This ability has been showcased on multiple occasions throughout Rea’s career. Perhaps the most clear example came in 2019. Whilst all and sundry had written off his title chances, after Alvaro Bautista’s incredible run of 13 wins from the opening 16 races, Rea’s head never dropped. By ensuring that he constantly mopped up the next best places, he had put himself in prime position to catch Bautista as an when the Spaniard’s incredible run came to an end.

The patience and discipline shown in sticking to what needed to be done ensured that, despite Bautista’s early-season dominance, Rea was never more than a couple of victories away from taking the lead in the championship.  Once that happened, Rea hit the racers’ zenith. Such was the confidence in himself and his team, it was inevitable he’d hit his own ‘purple patch’

As has been the case for the past three seasons – Chaz Davies(left) is the only rider who can challenge Jonathan Rea (right) for the title.

In 2020, the championship battle required a different tactic. With the Kawasaki being more competitive at the start of the season, Rea was able to trade early-season victories with Scott Redding. Once his rival faltered and a gap in the standings had been established, Rea defaulted to prioritising scoring only as many points as he needed to keep Redding behind. He was content enough to let other riders go up the road, safe in the knowledge that his rival could not score sufficient points to make any meaningful inroads (if any at all) to his lead.

Described like that, it is a brutal suffocation of his rivals. Yet there is a fine art to it – and is very difficult to spot on track. Certainly to a casual observer. Rea has to always ensure that his rival (Redding in 2020, Tom Sykes in 2015) finished behind him.

You cannot afford to ride slow with this tactic, let’s make that clear.

If someone puts together a string of qualifying-style laps in an attempt to break away from the field, Rea uses his judgement to let them go. He has a target pace to ride to, with a small margin to increase pace should he need to recover places later in the race.

Many riders attempt to employ this tactic. Few succeed. Even fewer succeed year after year. As racing goes, this is psychological warfare: Grind down your opponent until he believes you are always that little bit better or faster than him. When a rival cracks – as Sykes and Redding did respectively – it looks sudden and spectacular as the defeated challenger loses heart and finds himself falling back through the field – or worse crashing out.

This kind of moment ensures that race result which ultimately seals the championship, but it has taken weeks, sometimes months to grind the opponent down to such a state.

Jonathan Rea Celebrating his six WSBK titles. Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK

You cannot pull that off overnight. Neither can you be taught it. A state of mind. You have to be utterly ruthless with your opponent – yet at the same time make it so subtle very few can spot what you’re doing until its too late.

Jonathan Rea – a true master of his art.

Ed Hocknull

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