In depth: Kyle Smith on his decision to race in Britain|
A whole new era of Supersport racing will shortly be forged in the heat of real competition within the BSB paddock and it received another early boost when three-time WorldSSP race winner Kyle Smith was announced as the first rider signed up for the Dynavolt Triumph team.
Operated by Simon Buckmaster’s UK-based PTR racing setup, the one-time top Honda WorldSSP competitors will run and help develop the official Triumph machine, based on the 765cc three-cylinder engine concept used in Moto2.
Smith is a seasoned WorldSSP competitor, with over 60 race starts to his name. He enjoyed two of his total nine WorldSSP podium places in the latter stages of 2020, riding in place of the injured Jules Cluzel for the French GMT94 Yamaha squad.
On paper the mix of Smith/PTR and a new ‘big-bore’ Triumph is a potentially potent one, with Smith’s lack of familiarity with the BSB tracks he will be racing around seeming to form the main question mark at this stage.
Having moved from his native Huddersfield to the Calpe region of Spain at the tender age of seven, and being a product of the Spanish MX and then roadracing environment until his global career really began, Smith has never raced at any UK circuit except Donington Park.
A complete change of race series was part of the package of attractions for Smith around this new Triumph project, especially as he will be part of a familiar set-up in some other regards.
“I have always got on with Simon Buckmaster, raced for him before and it has always gone good,” said Smith, who is currently 29 years old. “He came up with the project of racing with Triumph. We have been speaking for a while. For me, it is good. Racing in England, there will be a few tracks I don’t know – every track I don’t know – except for Donington. Racing with a British bike manufacturer and a British team; I think it will be fun and I think we will be able to do good.”
With the 2022 WorldSSP technical rules expected to be based on the final version of the BSS series this coming season, the talk from the Dynavolt Triumph team is already of a return to WorldSSP next year. Even more positive news for Smith, especially as WorldSSP is such a difficult class to get a competitive ride in nowadays, unless you bring your own funds in many cases.
“Financially, every year is getting harder,” said Smith. “I spoke to a few teams but they are all looking for budget. I had an option in the Spanish championship, but I preferred to do this with Simon, to be honest. I think it will be more exciting from my side, and with the new bike, which should be good.”
Going back to Worlds in 2022 was another attraction for Smith. “That is the idea,” he said. “To do a year’s worth of development in Britain and then in 2022, when they change the rules in WorldSSP, jump back into that.”
Previous Triumph experiences in WorldSSP have been positive at times – especially so given the lack of recognisable factory support for previous projects. Seven podiums and one pole position (for Luke Stapleford at Losail in 2016) are the high water marks for Triumph in WorldSSP.
In BSS Triumph has a true winning pedigree, with four riders’ championships since 2008. None of this has been lost on Smith. “The old bike they had was good,” said Smith. “I know Luke Stapleford did really good on it. It has been British Supersport Champion, that Triumph. And this engine is obviously good because in Moto2 everybody has liked it.
“There is no reason it should not be a good bike. Simon says that Triumph are really good to deal with, really supportive.”