Moto3 – the Season Preview so far …… by Si Boyle

With Sky Racing Team VR46 and Estrella Galicia leaving Moto3 to focus their resources on MotoGP and Moto2 projects, the lightweight class grid will look a little different in 2021. The top five riders in last season’s standings have all moved up to Moto2 also. So with a full breakdown of the teams and riders at the bottom of this page, I’m going to first give you my six to watch in 2021.

John McPhee

Now the elder

Tony Arbolino, Romano Fenati and John McPhee. Moto3 2019: Round Eleven – Red Bull Ring, Austria. Image courtesy of Hondanews.eu

statesman of Moto3, it had looked likely that the Brit would move to Moto2 with MV Augusta in 2021 but he has re-signed for a third season with Petronas Sprinta to race the Honda for another shot at the title. John has three wins under his belt, including Misano last year but to date has lacked the consistency and luck for a sustained challenge for the crown with his best overall being fifth in 2019. Can this be his year at last?

Darryn Binder

McPhee’s new teammate could be another title challenger in South African Brad Binder’s younger brother, Darryn. The 22-year-old has been in Moto3 since 2015 and took his maiden win in Catalunya last year. The first race of the 2021 will be his 100th in the class but also his first on a Honda after previously riding Mahindra and KTM machinery. So far in his career, Darryn has certainly been a Sunday rider, often coming through the pack in exciting fashion after qualifying poorly the day before. If he can start higher up the grid in 2021 it could make a huge difference to his season.

Into the first corner, of the 2020 Jerez Moto3 GP. Image courtesy of Polarity Photo/KTM

Jaume Masia

The young Spaniard is surely one of the favourites for the 2021 title. Of the riders staying in Moto3 from last season he finished the highest in sixth place, taking two wins in the double-header at Aragon. This is his fourth full season in the class and a move to one of the best teams on the grid, Red Bull KTM Ajo is his best shot at the title yet. The challenge for Masia may come from one rider I haven’t included in this sextet, his own teammate Pedro Acosta who won the Red Bull Rookies Cup last season.

Tatsuki Suzuki

The relationship between the likeable Japanese rider and the popular SIC58 Squadra Corse team continues for a fifth season in 2021. After seven races of 2020, the 23-year-old was a title contender with victory at Jerez in round three and a podium at Misano. Tatsuki appears to have formed a strong bond with Paolo Simoncelli over the years and it would be great to see the pair back on the podium in 2021.

Dennis Foggia

The former VR46 Academy rider starts his fourth season in Moto3 with perhaps more expectation than any previous year. H

Dennis Foggia, Moto3 race,,Aragon MotoGP 2019. Image courtesy of Gold and Goose/KTM

e remains with the competitive Leopard team and has a rookie for a teammate in Spaniard Xavier Artegas which should help the team focus on his title bid. The 20-year-old Italian also took his maiden win last season at Brno and was second at the final race of the year in Portugal.

Jeremy Alcoba

The rookie of the year in 2020 took his first podium at the final round in Portugal. The 19-year-old also finished in the top ten in eight of the fifteen races and showed great consistency across the season (only one finish outside the points and two retirements). Of the riders yet to win a race in Moto3, Jeremy is my tip for one in 2021.

 

FULL LIST OF TEAMS AND RIDERS

Petronas Sprinta Racing – Honda

17 – John McPhee (GBR) – 26yo – 151 races, 3 wins – 7th overall in 2020

40 – Darryn Binder (RSA) – 22yo – 99 races, 1 win – 8th overall in 2020

Red Bull KTM Ajo – KTM

5 – Jaume Masia (SPA) – 20yo – 53 races, 3 wins – 6th overall in 2020

37 – Pedro Acosta (SPA) – 16yo – Rookie – 2020 Red Bull Rookies Cup Champion, 3rd in FIM CEV Moto3 in 2020

Red Bull KTM Tech3 – KTM

53 – Deniz Oncu (TUR) – 17yo – 15 races, 0 wins – 17th overall in 2020

71 – Ayumu Sasaki (JAP) – 20yo – 70 races, 0 wins – 16th overall in 2020

Aspar Team Moto3 – GasGas

11 – Sergio Garcia (SPA) – 17yo – 32 races, 1 win – 9th overall in 2020

28 – Izan Guevara (SPA) – 16yo – Rookie – 2020 FIM CEV Moto3 Champion, 9th in Red Bull Rookies Cup in 2020

Leopard Racing – Honda

7 – Dennis Foggia (ITA) – 20yo – 54 races, 1 win – 10th overall in 2020

43 – Xavier Artigas (SPA) – 17yo – Rookie – Runner-up in FIM CEV Moto3 in 2020

Team Gresini Moto3 – Honda

52 – Jeremy Alcoba (SPA) – 19yo – 20 races, 0 wins – 11th overall in 2020

2 – Gabriel Rodrigo (ARG) – 24yo – 103 races, 0 wins – 13th overall in 2020

SIC58 Squadra Corse – Honda

24 – Tatsuki Suzuki (JAP) – 23yo – 103 races, 2 wins – 12th overall in 2020

20 – Lorenzo Fellon (FRA) – 16yo – Rookie – 11th in FIM CEV Moto3 in 2020

Sterilgarda Max Racing Team – Husqvarna

55 – Romano Fenati (ITA) – 24yo – 128 races, 12 wins – 14th overall in 2020

31 – Adrian Fernandez (SPA) – 16yo – 1 races, 0 wins – 7th in FIM CEV Moto3 in 2020

Rivacold Snipers Team – Honda

16 – Andrea Migno (ITA) – 24yo – 115 races, 1 win – 15th overall in 2020

12 – Filip Salac (CZE) – 19yo – 33 races, 0 wins – 21st overall in 2020

CIP Green Power – KTM

27 – Kaito Toba (JAP) – 20yo – 69 races, 1 win – 18th overall in 2020

73 – Maximilian Kofler (AUT) – 20you – 19 races, 0 wins – No points in 2020

Reale Avintia Moto3 – KTM

23 – Niccolo Antonelli (ITA) – 24yo – 147 races, 4 wins – 19th overall in 2020

99 – Carlos Tatay (SPA) – 17yo – 17 races, 0 wins – 22nd overall in 2020

BOE Skull Rider Facile.energy – KTM

82 – Stefano Nepa (ITA) – 19yo – 40 races, 0 wins – 20th overall in 2020

54 – Riccardo Rossi (ITA) – 18yo – 33 races, 0 wins – No points in 2020

CarXpert Prustel GP – KTM

6 – Ryusei Yamanaka (JAP) – 19yo – 19 races, 0 races – 24th overall in 2020

50 – Jason Dupasquier (SUI) – 19yo – 15 races, 0 wins – No points in 2020

Honda Team Asia – Honda

92 – Yuki Kunii (JAP) – 16yo – 15 races, 0 wins – No points in 2020

19 – Andi Farid Izdihar (INA) – 23yo – Rookie in Moto3 – 16 Moto2 races in 2020 with no points

Nicky “The Kentucky Kid” Hayden – the Legend

Nicky Hayden “The Kentucky Kid” was known for his natural ability to ride motorbikes, his respectful polite attitude and for his abundance of charisma.

Nicky Hayden is all smiles (Image: Circuitricardotormo.com)

Born July 30th 1981 Nicky Hayden sadly passed away May 22nd 2017, from injuries sustained from riding a bicycle in Italy, aged just 36 years old. During these years he led an incredible life and a career many would be jealous of. His brother Tommy said “He dreamed as a kid of being a pro-rider and he not only achieved that but also managed to reach the pinnacle of his chosen sport.”*

So how did Nicky Hayden manage to achieve all this?

At age 3 Nicky started to ride dirt bikes with his family and by age 5 was racing them. Aged just 16 he had turned professional and followed his brother (Tommy) into AMA Superbike racing. Aged 21 he won the Daytona 200 and became the youngest AMA Superbike champion, which propelled him into his Moto GP career.

Racing with the number 69 he carried on where he left off in AMA and rode for (Repsol) Honda in 2003 and became Valentino Rossi’s team-mate. An interesting choice as Hayden hadn’t come through the normal rankings to participate in Moto GP. He finished a respectful 5th place in the season. The same time he won Rookie of the year. He was definitely showing that he was one to watch.

2004 saw Nicky Hayden with a new team-mate – Alex Barros (the year that Rossi left Honda to move to Yamaha). Hayden sustained injuries from a broken collarbone which hampered his championship hopes and ended the season in 8th place, alongside Carlos Checca and Loris Capirossi.

Having his best season so far in 2005, Nicky Hayden secured his first win on home soil at Laguna Seca (America), making it an ever sweeter victory as Moto GP hadn’t returned here since 1994 (11 years). He also finished 3rd overall in the championship with 206 points, his best result yet. Honda also paired him up with yet another new team-mate – Max Biaggi.

Emotional Nicky Hayden winning 2006 championship (Image: Motorsport.com)

Now with 3 year’s of experience, The Kentucky Kid was definitely making a name for himself. Through constant strong performances and sheer determination Hayden became the 2006 Moto GP World Champion. He had now “managed to reach the pinnacle of his chosen sport”. This season Nicky was riding the prototype Honda, that no-one else had used and was helping to develop it all the while with his eyes on the prize. Honda also decided that he would have another new team-mate to get used to, this time saw Dani Pedrosa who progressed from 250’s, from this point on Pedrosa remained his team mate at Honda.

Hayden won the 2006 championship only 5 points above Rossi (252 points). Finishing 3rd in the final round at Valencia. He also finished 3rd at Istanbul Park celebrating his 50th Moto GP race and at Assen he gave Honda their 200th race win in the top-class. He also became the only other champion in the 990cc class, other than Rossi. Showing that consistency really does pay off.

The new engine format ruling brought into Moto GP for 2007, saw 990cc engines go to 800cc, this seemed a challenge for Nicky’s riding style which culminated in him finishing 8th overall in the championship.

Continuing with Honda, Hayden sustained injuries again, this time to his foot which hampered his championship throughout 2008 and he finished 6th for the season.

2009 was the year for a switch-up. Hayden left Honda for the first time in his professional career and teamed up with Casey Stoner at Marlboro Ducati. Adjustments were needed for the new change, Nicky tried his best but finished outside the top ten for the first time in a season, finishing 13th.

Riding for Ducati (Image: Motorcycle News)

Sticking with Ducati for 2010, he ended the year in 7th, a large improvement following on from the previous year.

Valentino then joined Ducati in 2011. Pairing up with his old team-mate and friend, Hayden and Rossi should have been the perfect team to lead Ducati to the championship. But, things were not perfect, even after all effort was made to make the bikes more competitive they just never amounted to much and Hayden finished 8th in the championship.

Nicky Hayden continued to ride for Ducati in 2012 and 2013. Finishing in 9th place, both seasons.

Hoping to find some new form and possibly another championship win, Hayden returned to Honda (2014) where he stayed for the next two years. Finishing 16th and 20th. The worst results in his career. Nicky decided enough was enough and left Moto GP for a new challenge in World Superbikes.

Before his last race at Valencia in 2015 however, the FIM recognised Nicky’s achievements and named him Moto GP’s 22nd Legend. He was now alongside such names as Agostini, Simoncelli, Rainey and Sheene – to name a few. Normally this status is awarded posthumously, but in his case, an exception was made.

Nicky Hayden leading the pack in WSB (Image: Motorsport.com)

2016 was definitely the injection Hayden needed. New challenges, new bike (still with Honda), new team, new tracks, new experiences saw Hayden finish 5th in the championship, mirroring his first year in Moto GP and not only that but winning at Malaysia and finishing on the podium a further three times.

If his first season in WSB was anything to go by, he was on his way to becoming champion there too. Tragedy struck though in 2017 and saw a shining star taken suddenly from us all.

Ride on Kentucky Kid – always remembered.

*(https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/motorsport/39972058)

Racing Legends: Shane Byrne

For every season in any sport we crave close action and the thrill of a championship battle. Sometimes we also need someone to stamp their own authority on a discipline; a measuring stick so to speak.

Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne at the 2017 BSB chmpionship at Oulton Park. Image courtesy of Ducati

In the 1990s and 2000s my beloved Manchester United swept the board in English football, Phil ‘The Power” Taylor became the doyen of darts with 16 world championship titles while Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and latterly Lewis Hamilton have monopolised the Formula One driver’s championship through different eras of the sport.

British Superbikes is no different. While some may point to Niall Mackenzie’s hat-trick of title wins in the 1990s or Leon Camier’s 2009 championship victory as examples of BSB dominance, these pail into insignificance when one name is mentioned above all the rest. Shane Byrne.

After emerging in the championship during 1999 and an impressive eighth place finish aboard a privateer Suzuki in 2001, Byrne claimed his first BSB victory at Donington Park in 2002 on board the Renegade Ducati machine. Controversy reigned at the end of 2002 when ‘Shakey’ first linked up with Paul Bird to ride the MonsterMob Ducati bike for 2003. He replaced champion Steve Hislop in the process, and one of British motorsport’s great manager-rider partnerships was born.

The 2003 season saw Byrne claim the BSB title in stunning fashion, winning 12 races to take his maiden championship title with the first nine victories coming within the first half of the season. To add to his imperious domestic form, Byrne also claimed a convincing double victory in the Brands Hatch World Superbike round as well. The impressive return in 2003 saw Byrne make the jump to MotoGP as he gained a seat aboard the Aprilia alongside Jeremy McWilliams.

Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne At BSB Oulton 2017.Image courtesy of Ducati

After a less than successful stay in the premier class, Byrne made his return to the British scene in 2006 with Rizla Suzuki. During a season that involved a stomach virus, bike thefts and an injury at the final round, Byrne managed to pick up podiums at Oulton Park and Knockhill, winning the second race in Scotland. After highsiding in the final round at Brands Hatch, Byrne was knocked out and thus didn’t compete in the final race meaning his final position in the standings slipped from fourth to sixth.

Following a competitive season in 2007, back under the stewardship of Paul Bird on the Stobart Vent-Axia Honda in which he claimed a victory at Mallory Park and eventually finished fifth overall, Byrne was back on a Ducati for 2008. Riding for GSE Racing’s Airwaves Ducati team aboard the monstrous new 1098 machine, ‘Shakey’ took the title in a dominant fashion reminiscent of his 2003 championship year. He only finished outside of the podium places on one occasion (a fifth and a fourth respectively in the two races at Croft) and claimed the title by a comfortable 117 point margin from nearest rival, HM Plant Honda’s Leon Haslam.

Two more fruitless years followed as Byrne moved up to World Superbikes before HM Plant Honda gave ‘Shakey’ a seat for 2011. Despite notching a handful of victories, inconsistencies saw Byrne and team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari fall behind the leaders Tommy Hill and John Hopkins.

A third reunion with Paul Bird followed in 2012 when the PBM team began racing Kawasaki machines. The old partnership was once again tasting glory at the end of the season. Despite not winning a race until the seventh outing of the campaign, Byrne soon turned his form around, taking four of the final seven races of the season – finishing second in the other three – to capture the championship for a third time.

After finishing second behind Samsung Honda’s Alex Lowes in 2013, Byrne was once again back atop the pile a year later in record-breaking style as he helped himself to 11 victories throughout the course of the campaign before comfortably clinching the title 62 points clear of former team-mate Kiyonari.

#67 Shane Shakey Byrne Sittingbourne Be Wiser Ducati Racing Team MCE British Superbikes

Another second placed finish came in 2015  – this time behind Milwaukee Yamaha’s Josh Brookes –  before Byrne really stamped his authority on the British series with a pair of back-to-back title wins in 2016 and 2017.

The 2016 triumph saw Byrne hold off the challenge of Speedfit Kawasaki’s Leon Haslam with nine race wins contributing to the title win by a 59 point margin while 2017 was a much tighter affair. Despite winning more races than the second placed Brookes  – 7-3 in Byrne’s favour –  the championship was decided by just three points in one of the closest title races in BSB history.

A serious accident during a mid-season test session at Snetterton curtailed Byrne’s 2018 season and he hasn’t been seen on a bike since as the rehab process following the accident continues. However, you can still regularly see ‘Shakey’ on your screen offering his opinions and comments as a pundit for Eurosport.

It remains to be seen whether we’ll see Shane Byrne aboard a BSB machine again although one thing is for certain. Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne is a bona fide racing legend.

2021 Moto GP season preview

Photo credit: Moto GP website

2020 was the year to shake up all years, who could have predicted what happened?

Starting with Marc Marquez missing the whole season due to an injury sustained in Jerez, the possibility of no races even happening due to the pandemic, then the races going ahead but much later in the year to an unpredictable world champion and new tracks!

Marc Marquez at Jerez 2020. Image courtesy of Box Repsol/Honda Racing

However, with the new 2021 season fast approaching, there is more to discuss: will Marquez be at full fitness? Will Joan Mir be able to defend his title? Will Yamaha’s engine be problematic again and who have people got their eye on?

After Mir won his first Moto GP race and his first Moto GP championship in 2020 with Suzuki – a feat that hasn’t been accomplished for 20 years – Davide Brivio (Suzuki’s team Manager) announced that he was leaving and starting a new adventure outside of Moto GP. Suzuki have said that they are not currently looking for a replacement and are happy with the teams work-ethic. They may promote someone within the team, but nothing has been officially said. Let’s hope that they will keep the same momentum going through to 2021, with Mir being defending champion. Will he be able to handle the pressure? Will he be as hungry for the win now he has won one title? Will he be able to bring the fight to Marc Marquez, if he returns fully fit? Only time will tell.

Marquez has had to have numerous operations on his arm since the beginning of the 2020 season, which saw him unable to compete for the rest of the year. It has been announced that he will not be back for the start of 2021 in Qatar either, due to the healing process of the most recent operation. This paves the way potentially for Andrea Dovisioso to return to Moto GP, in place of Marc.

Andrea Dovizioso at the 2019 Misano Test. Image courtesy of Ducati

Dovisioso decided to leave Ducati last year, due to some differences, which left the “Undaunted” rider with no ride for the 2021. However, as he now has no ties or affiliation with any team, Honda are able to ask him to step in for Marc. Having ridden for Honda previously in Moto GP, starting in 2009, it wouldn’t be their worst decision.

When Marquez does return to racing, the questions are: will he be fully able to compete as he once did? Will he be physically and mentally prepared for the close contact, action packed races? And after having a year off, will the others riders be more focused and the teams more prepared than him and Honda?

Of course Alex Marquez is now going to be racing for LCR Honda, instead of being with his brother on the Repsol. So, Marc will also have to get used to his new team-mate Pol Espargaro and vice versa.

The teams are as follows:

Team

Racers

Repsol Honda

Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro

Ducati

Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia

Monster Energy Yamaha

Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quatararo

Suzuki Estar

Joan Mir and Alex Rins

Red Bull KTM

Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira

Aprila Racing

Aleix Espargaro and Lorenzo Salvadori (or Bradley Smith)

Petronas Yamaha

Valentino Rossi and Franco Morbidelli

LCR Honda

Alex Marquez and Takaaki Nakagami

Pramac Racing

Johann Zarco and Jorge Martin

Red Bull KTM Tech 3

Danilo Petrucci and Iker Lecuona

Esponsorama Racing VR46 Team

Luca Marini and Enea Bastinini

Jorge Martin and Luca Marini are the rookies for this season and would be good to keep an eye on as they have shown great potential in previous Moto 2 and Moto 3 championships.

Pol Espargaro and Franco Morbidelli at Jerez 2019. Image courtesy of Philip Platzer/KTM

2021 also sees three different sets of brothers competing against each other: Marc and Alex Marquez, Pol and Aleix Espargaro and Valentino Rossi and Luca Marini.

As for the tracks they will be competing on, the line-up is looking good. However, there are some reserve tracks should the Coronovirus impede on the championship again, namely: Portugal, Indonesia and Russia.

The calendar for the year is as follows:

Date

Location

Track

28th March

Qatar

Losail International Circuit

11th April

Argentina

Termas di Rio Hondo

18th April

America (Austin, Texas)

Grand Prix of the Americas

2nd May

Spain (Jerez)

Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto

16th May

France

Le Mans

30th May

Italy (Tuscany)

Autodromo Internaziole del Mugello

6th June

Spain (Catalunya)

Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya

20th June

Germany

Sachsenring

27th June

Netherlands

TT Circuit Assen

11th July

Finland

Kymi Ring

TBC

TBC

TBC

15th August

Austria

Red Bull Ring – Spielberg

29th August

Britain

Silverstone Circuit

12th September

Spain (Aragon)

Motorland Aragon

19th September

San Marino

Misano World Circuit – Marco Simoncelli

3rd October

Japan

Twin Ring Motegi

10th October

Thailand

Chang International Circuit

24th October

Australia

Phillip Island

31st October

Malaysia

Sepang International Circuit

14th November

Spain (Valencia)

Circuit Ricardo Tormo

However, due to Covid 19 the Sepang tests have already been cancelled. All dates and tracks are up to date and confirmed at the time of writing (January 2021), but can be subject to change.

There has also been a change for the Circuit de Barcelona. Turn 10 has had the shape re-designed, in agreement with the FIM and FIA for both Moto GP and F1, following safety concerns from past years.

Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales during the Austrian 2020 Race in which both riders avoided bikes re-entering the track. Image courtesy of Yamaha Motor Racing

There is one new important rule to Moto GP this year: both non-concession and concession manufacturers must start the 2021 season using March 2020 approved parts. After that, normal upgrade regulations will apply for the rest of 2021.

Yamaha had issues last year with their engines and once with brake failure, which led to Vinales having to jump off at the end of the start-finish straight at the Styrian Grand Prix. Will this continue into 2021? Arguably, the Petronas Yamaha seemed to be the more competitive and reliable bike within the Yamaha team, will that still be the case for Rossi and Morbidelli this year? If so will Valentino be able to achieve his illusive 200th podium?

Marco Bezzecchi, Moto2 race, European MotoGP, 08 November 2020. Picture courtesy of Triumph

As for BT Sport viewers, they will also not be hearing the familiar voice of Keith Huewen as he has decided he would like to step down from commentating and spend more quality time with his family. It has not been announced yet who will be filling his shoes, but there are plenty of possibilities. Best wishes for him in the future.

Whatever the outcome, audiences are sure to be in for a treat with the 2021 Moto GP Championship.

Who do you think will come out victorious? And also which team will be number one at the end of the season?

Steve ‘Stavros’ Parrish – Motorcycle Racer, Truck Racer, Commentator and Master Prankster

So I know the burning question on your lips is the same as mine – ‘Why is Steve Parrish known as Stavros?’ The answer is that back in his motorcycle racing days when he was teammates with Barry Sheene, Barry nicknamed him Stavros after a character in the TV show ‘Kojak’ as both had a mop of black curly hair. The name Stavros has stuck since then!

Steve began racing at the age of 19 after he ‘got too wild for the roads’ and in 1975 Steve was the Best Young Rider winning the Grovewood Award. The following year, at the age of 22, he started professional motorbike racing and won the British Solo Championship that same year.

Joining Suzuki in 1977 with Barry Sheene as his teammate, Steve finished 5th overall in the 500cc World Championship and returned to British based riding in 1978 where he became the 500cc ACU Gold Star Champion followed by the 500cc Shellsport Motorcycle Champion in 1979 and 1980. Steve went on to become the British Superbike Champion in 1981,

I think it’s safe to say Steve is well known in the paddock and indeed, out of the paddock, as a practical joker. With his infectious smile, mischief seems to follow Steve.

During one qualifying session, Sheene, turned up … um….shall we say, hungover and so Steve donned his teammate’s overalls and helmet and qualified on his behalf on the RG500 Suzuki. Back in the pits, Steve then put his own overalls and helmet on and went out and did his own qualifying lap, annoyingly finishing further down the grid than the qualifying lap he put in for Sheene! Can you imagine something like that happening these days?

Setting off firecrackers outside a brothel where a few of his fellow riders were being, I’m not quite sure how to put this, serviced, saw Steve being banned from Macau and then there was the incident in Finland where the toilet block burnt down …..

Then there was the time Steve posed as a medical doctor in Japan to enable John Hopkins to fly to the Australian GP. I am willing to bet that Steve could make a book out of his antics!

In 1986 Steve retired from motorcycle racing to start a five year stint as the team manager for the Yamaha factory team for whom he used to ride where he led the team to victory winning three British Championship titles.

Alongside managing the Yamaha team, Steve began a fifteen year career as a truck racer becoming the most successful truck racer ever. In 1987 he won the British Open Truck Racing Championship, came 2nd in the series in 1989 and went on to win the European and British Truck Racing Championship in 1990 followed by the 1991 British Championship.

Steve then went on to win the European title for the next three years, coming 2nd in 1995 and then taking the title again in 1996. Steve continued to compete in truck racing until he retired in 2002.

Talking about racing motorbikes and trucks, Steve says there is quite an affinity between the two sports explaining that a motorbike doesn’t want to change direction quickly and has to be coaxed into corners which is much like a 5 tonne truck, it doesn’t want to shift around corners either and there is an awful lot more weight to shift than a motorbike!

In 1985 Steve started commentating for BBC radio before moving to Sky alongside Barry Nutley. From 1990 he started commentating for the BBC on the British 125 championship before moving onto MotoGP coverage with Charlie Cox where the pair also commentated on British Touring Cars, British Superbikes and World Superbikes.

As a qualified pilot, commentating on the Red Bull Air Race series is a perfect transition for Steve also.

Alongside former racer James Whitham, the pair commentate on the Isle of Man TT.

I think we can safely say that whatever Steve turns his hand to, he makes a success out of it. Indeed, Steve has even managed to get into the Guinness Book of World Records for, and I quote, ‘The Fastest Speed Achieved in Reverse’! In a Caterham!! I didn’t even know that was a ‘thing’. Sure sounds like fun though ……

Steve is an expert witness for motor racing incidents and can regularly be seen testing various vehicles and racing machines. Steve’s own personal vehicle collection includes a hearse, an ambulance and a fire engine!

You can imagine the antics Steve and his vehicles manage to get themselves into – apparently for example, driving the hearse very slowly until there is a long trail of cars behind and then tearing off up the road leaving the queue behind!

Or when Steve visits the bank in his ambulance – he pulls up outside the bank and parks on the yellow lines, leaves the rear doors open and then pops into the bank to do his banking!

Or the time Steve pulled up outside his friend’s pub on a Sunday afternoon in his fire engine and hosed down the inside of the packed pub!

I think if you see Steve coming, you should certainly have your wits about you as you really just don’t know what mayhem is to come.

A truly talented motorcycle racer, truck racer, commentator and master prankster, I believe that makes Steve a legend in my book.

Outside contenders at the IndyCar Bommarito Automotive 500

Following the dramatic conclusion of the Indianapolis 500, IndyCar relentlessly ploughs on with frightening momentum into a double header weekend at the World-Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, Illinois.

Now two-time Indy 500 champion Takuma Sato brings massive confidence to the Bommarito Automotive Group 500, a race he won last year after holding off a late-charging Ed Carpenter in the closing stages to win by a narrow lead of 0.0339 seconds. It was the closest finish in IndyCar history.

He will get the opportunity not once, but twice to win at Gateway again. It is a sight we have almost become accustomed to, with doubleheaders at Iowa, Road America and of course over in Formula 1 with double-headers at Austria and Silverstone.

Looking at the championship standings it is a grim picture for anyone who is not Scott Dixon. The New Zealander holds a commanding lead of 84 points over his next closest rival, Josef Newgarden. It paints a clearer picture of how dominant the five-time world champion has been this season when noticing third placed Patricio O’Ward is a further 33 points behind Newgarden. Can anyone stop the brilliance of Scott Dixon?

Frankly, outside Newgarden, O’Ward and Sato, you may think the chances are slim.

But alas, there are many other drivers looking to prove themselves at the famous ‘egg-shaped’ circuit. Here are my surprise candidates to achieve a good result this weekend:

James Black / IndyCar Media

Santino Ferrucci

However infamous this young driver may be, you can’t argue with the results he has been putting in this season.

A pair of sixth place finishes in the REV Group Grand Prix at Road America road course doubleheader was certainly a standout. More recently, a fantastic fourth at the Indianapolis 500 following a late charge which saw him finish three tenths behind leader Takuma Sato and within touching distance of podium finisher Graham Rahal.

In three out of the last five races he has finished in the top six. You could therefore argue that the young gun is finding his feet comfortably in IndyCar, vehemently charged to change his reputation in global motorsport.

While the likes of VeeKay, Palou, Askew and O’Ward may be stealing most of the headlines, Santino will be looking to upset the status-quo. You only have to look back a year when he finished fourth at Gateway after leading almost one hundred laps of the famous egg-shaped circuit.

Joe Skibinski / IndyCar Media

Conor Daly

Weeks have elapsed since a hilarious prank war between Conor Daly and Alexander Rossi, where the Andretti driver awoke to find his golf cart dismantled and relieved of its wheels. Since then, you could say Daly would have gladly swapped that same golf cart in place of his actual IndyCar over the last few races.

He has not finished in the top ten since the first race at Iowa and will be looking to bounce back in spectacular fashion.

Luckily for Conor, it seems he has a knack at Gateway. In his two race starts at the Bommarito 500 he has never finished outside the top six, a statistic that may give him confidence going into the weekend.

Bouncing between Carlin and Ed Carpenter Racing this year certainly will not have helped to form any sort of consistency needed for a title challenge. However, out of all his teammates he is currently tied with the most points alongside hotshot rookie Rinus VeeKay. If you were looking for a dramatic teammate battle, this one would be the one to watch.

Chris Owens / IndyCar Media

Colton Herta

The young American has had something of a roller-coaster of a season. While he is win-less this year, a seventh, fourth and a pair of fifths in the opening four rounds of the campaign proves he has consistency as well as raw speed. He comes radiating confidence after finishing a tremendous eight at the Brickyard.

What has been most impressive this year has been his qualifying form. Since the GMR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway his qualifying results have been as follows: Indianapolis (3rd), Road America Race 1 (7th), Road America Race 2 (2nd), Iowa Speedway Race 1 (4th), Iowa Speedway Race 2 (5th). He only barely missed out on the ‘Fast Nine’ shootout at the Indy500. In such a competitive field, such consistent qualifying pace is a solid indicator that Colton has the speed to match anyone in the series. I expect a similar solid qualifying run to occur, and with that, a potential for a good result.

If you need any more evidence, the Californian has made two Indy Lights starts at Worldwide Technology Raceway leading 69 of 75 laps in 2018 before settling for second. Herta finished one spot lower in his first race at the 1.25-mile oval.

Enzo Ferrari, The Italian Legend

“Aerodynamics are for people who cannot build engines” Enzo Anselmo Ferrari

Enzo Anselmo Ferrari, born in Modena on the 18th of February 1898, his birth registered two days later due to heavy snow. When Ferrari was 10 years old, his father, took him and his brother Alfredo, to watch a motor race in Bologna. The race is won by Felice Nazzaro and that moment was enough to create a spark and a secret love in Enzo’s heart about Motorsport.

The following decade was a tragedy for Enzo and his family. In 1916, the flu killed his father and his brother, Enzo forced to quit his studies in order to look for a job. He found a place as an instructor in Modena’s fire service workshop. The following year, Ferrari joined the Italian army, he became a member of the 3rd Alpine Artillery Division, but he was seriously ill and after two operations he was honourable discharged.

In 1919, Ferrari moved to Milan to join the C.M.N ( Costruzioni Meccaniche Nazionali). In his debut as a racing driver, Enzo finished fourth at the 1919 Parma-Poggio di Berceto hill climb race. On November 23rd he took part in the Targa Florio but he lost due to a leak in his fuel tank. One year later he left from C.M.N in order to join Alfa Romeo.

Enzo won the Circuit del Savio, in 1923, after his victory, he met the parents of WWI flying ace Francesco Baracca, they suggested him to use the emblem that decorated their son’s plane for good luck. The emblem, which is now known in the whole world, was a prancing horse. In the same year Ferrari married Laura Dominica Garello.

One year later, Enzo Ferrari became a Cavaliere (Knight) for his sporting achievements, it was the first official title which he received from the Italian authorities. In 1925, he made a Cavaliere Ufficiale and his passion about journalism lead him to become the main founder of the Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport in Bologna.

cc Rainer W. Schlegelmilch

The Born of Scuderia Ferrari

In 1929, Enzo founds the Scuderia Ferrari in Modena, the purpose of his company was to give the ability to owner drivers to race. His idea was very successful and after a while he created an official team. Scuderia included both cars and motorbikes. A few years later, in 1933, Scuderia became the official racing department of Alfa Romeo.

Ferrari’s final race as a driver was at Circuito Tre Province on August 9th, 1931, one year later he became a father, Alfredo or also known as Dino, was born on January 19th 1932. Enzo had to close his Scuderia, in 1937, because Alfa Romeo claimed back its racing department, five years later he left from Alfa Romeo, but he was not allowed to use the name Ferrari as a racing team, for at least four years.

After his departure from Alfa Romeo, Ferrari had a secret passion, he wanted to create his own racing cars. He opened Auto Avio Costruizioni in Modena, Ferrari forced to move his factory in Maranello, because during the WWII the government interfered with his plans. In his new factory in Maranello, Enzo decided to focus on grinding machines.

At the end of the Second World War, Enzo returned to designing racing cars, the first official Ferrari was the 125 S which was tested in March 1947. Ferrari had to wait a few months in order to celebrate his first victory in Rome at the Rome Grand Prix. A series of great victories were achieved the following seasons. In 1948 Ferrari won at the Mille Miglia, the next year he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and in 1951 Ferrari won the British Grand Prix.

Alberto Ascari was signed, in 1951, by Enzo and won Ferrari’s first world championship in 1952. During those years Enzo was also started designing cars for commercial use.

A serious illness cost the life of Enzo’s beloved son, Alferdo. In 1956, Dino died from muscular dystrophy. Ferrari was designing the new 1500 cc V6 engine alongside with his son, the engine made its debut 10 months after the Dino’s pass, all the V6 engines were named in his honour.

It was the hardest years of Enzo’s life, six of his drivers were killed between 1955 and 1965, he was also accused for manslaughter in 1957 as nine spectators lost their lives after one of his Ferraris lost control due to a puncture and crashed onto the spectators.

Some years later, in 1969, Ferrari decided to partner with Fiat Group, he knew that he needed a strong partnership in order to continue developing his company. Enzo, gave the 50% of his company to Fiat Group.

The End of Ferrari’s Legacy

Enzo Ferrari decided to build the Fiorano Circuit, which was officially launched on April 8th 1972. Ferrari, resigned as a company from his company in 1977, even though he retired, he still had the control of Scuderia Ferrari.

The F40 was the final car which was launched (1987) under Enzo Ferrari’s management. Enzo also received an honourable degree in Physics from the University of Modena in 1988. The August of the same year Enzo passed away in Maranello at the age of 90.

The first official entry of the Scuderia Ferrari in Formula 1 championship was in 1950 at the Monaco Grand Prix, since then Scuderia has celebrated 16 constructors’ championships and 15 drivers’ titles. Ferrari has scored 228 race victories and 211 pole positions.

“No one remember who took second place and that will never be me.” Enzo Ferrari

Victor Archakis – @FP_Passion

 

 

BTCC title race hots up after Sutton double at Snetterton

Ashley Sutton did his British Touring Car Championship aspirations no harm by taking two wins at Snetterton this weekend.

The Subaru driver closed in on title leader Gordon Shedden and proved his car has the potential to secure an unlikely title win.

It was Honda who took pole position with Eurotech backed driver Jack Goff taking the top spot. Colin Turkington in the BMW was second with Sutton taking third.

There was drama however as BTCC legend Matt Neal’s time was removed due to a failed ride height test. However due to some stipulations regarding the stewarding, his time was reinstated and he started fourth.

Turkington jumped Goff at the start and took the lead, with Sutton following behind in the Subaru. There were a few bumps and scrapes throughout the race as Ford’s Mat Jackson was almost spun round by Chevrolet driver Dave Newsham at Agostini.

The drama didn’t end there however as at the very same bend, Rob Austin dove down the inside of Tom Ingram, with the pair colliding and Austin’s Toyota suffering a puncture. He limped back to the pits but the damage was already done.

Back at the front Turkington lost the lead as he went off track, handing Goff the lead. Sutton was closing in on Goff, with the pair fighting hard, but on the exit of Agostini in to the following chicane, Sutton got past Goff and took yet another win in his Subaru. Goff took second with Neal rounding off the podium.

Race two was a much calmer affair after the opener, with Sutton taking a lights to flag win, pulling away from the chasing pack. The real fight was between BMW pair Turkington and Rob Collard. The pair were battling all race for second place, with Goff joining in the action.

Turkington managed to edge out Collard by just seven tenths, with Mat Jackson in the Shredded Wheat Ford in fourth and Goff in fifth.

Race three was unsolicited carnage, as the last race of the day burst into life, Ash Sutton, winner of the last two races, was hit off the track and suffered race ending damage, losing his hopes of a Snetterton hat trick.

Other notable crashes included Josh Cook in the MG being punted in the rear and retiring, as well as Matt Neal running wide and sliding into the wall.

Neal’s team mate Gordon Shedden took the win to preserve his title lead, with Collard and Turkington in second and third respectively. There was cause for celebration in the Power Maxed Racing garage as rookie Senna Proctor finished a career best ninth after starting 23rd.

With Shedden leading the championship lead by just two points from Rob Collard, and 11 points separating the top four, there will be a few twists and turns before the end of the season.