James Whitham: Redding impresses but the fat lady isn’t even warming up… - Bikesport News

James Whitham: Redding impresses but the fat lady isn’t even warming up…

While Scott Redding’s hat-trick at Donington was a remarkable performance it does not mean the Bennetts British Superbike Championship is a foregone conclusion as some might be thinking. There are too many challenges ahead - mainly the nature of the tracks we are going to.

But it is no wonder the boy was delighted. Eleven years ago, on June 22, 2008, at that same circuit Scott Redding became the youngest ever Grand Prix winner at the age of 15 years and 170 days. In the 125cc Grand Prix he beat people like Andrea Iannone and Marc Marquez, who seems to have come on quite well!

And we should not forget that he is still just recovering from a hideous crash while ‘training’ on a mini-bike in Spain resulting in a broken leg and weeks in a hospital bed.

But he is going to have to learn Brands Hatch, Knockhill, Cadwell Park and the others where he has never raced before. It’s going be even harder than it was for someone like Gregorio Lavilla who came in and competed at the front in his first year, as the strength of field goes a lot deeper now.

However, Redding doesn’t need to break his neck pushing for wins around those circuits so long as he gets into the Showdown, in which he will be visiting two circuits he knows well - Assen, Donington GP and Brands Hatch that he will be going back to having raced there in a few weeks’ time.

Josh Brookes? He didn’t have a brilliant weekend but he doesn’t need to worry. He isn’t doing a lot wrong and if you look at his lap times he was every bit as good as Redding but that big accident knocked the wind out of his sails, cost him a race and made him slightly gunshy for the others.

Things like that happen and we could easily have been talking about him rather than Scott. If I were him I wouldn’t be panicking quite yet.

The challenges for riders like Redding, Fores and Hector Barbera, brought in at short notice to replace Ben Currie at Quattro Kawaaki, are not just the tracks. They’re riding bikes with the best part of 230bhp with very few aids like traction control and on completely different tyres to what they’ve been used to.

So I doff my cap to them at Donington where Fores got Honda one of their best results and Barbera, in particular, did a cracking job. He just wasn’t as good as Redding at the argy bargy through the traffic where you get your elbows out and get stuck in. But it also has to be said that if this trio were going to perform well anywhere it would be Donington.

I chatted with all three rider afterwards and they said they were enjoying not having traction control. Barbera said it was the first time for years he’s had a bike which he controls completely and he’s loving it.

And on the question of enjoyment, it helps when you’re running at the front of whatever championship you’ve chosen. What’s the point of going round in 15th or 16th position, knowing where you’re going to finish unless something like the weather interferes?

It was particularly good to see Redding so happy. I am really warming to him because he’s such an honest kid and says things exactly as he sees them. I loved what he said at the end: ”I’ve had a really good weekend, I deserve a beer or two tonight.” He does.

Starting now is the Isle of Man TT. I love the TT and I’ll be on the Island. There is a scary element to it I’ll admit that. There was when I raced there and there is now I watch my mates competing there.

The TT is completely unique. There is nothing like it in the world. These very brave and very skilful riders are volunteers. And if you said to them you can only race once in the year they would choose the TT.

And to those people who say it shouldn’t happen I say “Why?” It doesn’t affect anybody else, only a danger to you. It’s your decision. If anybody has the power to affect that then everything stops. Horse riding stops, boxing stops, rugby stops, car racing stops, climbing a mountain stops because everything has an element of danger.

We are in a risk-averse world but to me it would be the thin end of the wedge if it was said that we’re not having the TT because it is dangerous.

If everyone sitting on that Glencrutchery Road waiting to go and, in fact, spend a fortune to be there how should you be able to stop that? What kind of individual rights are left? If somebody is able to stop people doing what they want, no, in fact love to do whether it be climbing mountains or sailing across oceans then the job is over.

I am sure the authorities would love it if we didn’t have our own folly in our own hands. Our own responsibility for our own danger is continuously being wrested from us. It seems like it’s someone else’s responsibility to keep you safe and I don’t think that’s right.

There’s a risk element to human beings and that’s why I love the Isle of Man. “He who risks nothing achieves nothing…”

Right, I’m stepping down from my soapbox now…

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