Silverstone was a weird weekend for Scott Redding. A year after his inch-perfect Moto2 win, and armed once more with that British GP feeling – “racing at home makes me almost feel like I’m invincible” – the 21-year-old achieved one of his best performances in the class of kings.
Redding topped QP1 (for the second time) and ended up out-qualifying three factory bikes. He might also have bettered Stefan Bradl’s RC213V, but for the fact that he had only one soft tyre left for QP2, allowing him only one run against MotoGP’s fastest men. If the MSMA hadn’t recently voted against allowing QP1-to-QP2 qualifiers an extra rear tyre, maybe he would’ve done even better than 11th.
That put Redding on the third row, two rows behind Valentino Rossi and therefore 20 yards behind his girlfriend, the callipygian Penny Sturgess, who spent the weekend working for the factory Yamaha team, holding Rossi’s brolly to shield the nine-time world champ from the punishing rays of the Silverstone sun. Extra motivation!
Redding was every bit as impressive in the race, beating two factory Ducatis to cross the line in 10th place. It wasn’t his best MotoGP finish – he crossed the line seventh in Qatar and ninth at Indy – but there were a lot of DNFs at those races, so from the point of view of the people who matter, it was a brilliant ride.
And yet despite all these great things, Redding’s world is teetering on the brink of collapse. His team – established by former 125 World Champion Fausto Gresini during the 1990s, when GP racing grew fat off the generous patronage of the tobacco industry – is skint. Thus Gresini cannot afford to lease factory RCVs for 2015, although he has asked Honda to give him until next weekend’s Misano GP to find the cash.
Gresini isn’t the first team owner to run out of money since MotoGP’s financial crash, which didn’t happen in the autumn of 2007 when the global financial system went into meltdown, but a year earlier when the tobacco industry was forced out of sponsorship.
Redding now stands near the very pinnacle of his sport. He has climbed all the way from bunking off school to race minibikes, to winning in 125s and in Moto2 and now to bettering several much more experienced Honda RCV1000R riders in his rookie MotoGP season.
And now that he has the Holy Grail – a factory Honda RC213V – within his grasp, everything may just collapse around him. While Gresini’s financial situation may force the Italian to relinquish the RC213Vs that had Redding’s name on them for 2015, HRC insist the bikes are still earmarked for the Brit. Only one problem: someone else will have to find the £2.8 million annual lease fee.
Marc VDS, Jorge Martinez’s Aspar team and LCR all want the bikes, but that’s a lot of money to find. Despite commencing their budget race only a couple of weeks ago, Marc VDS say they are “not far off” getting the investment in place. That’s remarkable, considering that a lot more than £2.8 million is required. As a newcomer to the premier class the team will have to front up an extra £1.2 million next season to cover freight and tyres costs. And they are looking at this as a three-year programme, which makes a grand total of £9.6 million.
Moto2 with Marc VDS in 2013
Redding will be hoping that Gresini fails to meet the financial target while Marc VDS do the opposite. Marc VDS are the people who brought Redding into Moto2 and honed him into a world-title challenger. He has a huge affinity with the Belgium-based squad and it just so happens that its team manager Michael Bartholemy is his personal manager.
And Redding would rather not ride with Gresini if that means using the team’s usual suspension and brake kit (Showa and Nissin, who both contribute to the team’s budget). Redding not unreasonably reckons that if he’s to have a shot at the top, he will need Öhlins and Brembo, as used by all the fastest riders.
If scraping together all that cash is beyond these teams, Redding has three other options, though they are all options of last resort. Pramac Ducati want him, but Redding is still spooked by the Ducati test ride he had at Mugello a couple of years ago. Aprilia want him, but their full-on factory MotoGP bike won’t be ready until 2016. Finally, he could stick around on an RCV1000R, which should be considerably quicker in 2015, thanks to the addition of pneumatic valve springs.
For all these reasons at Silverstone I kept stumbling across earnest huddles of riders, team managers and rider managers around the back of every other artic. There was Bartholemy deep in conversation with Bob Moore, financial guru to 2015 LCR rider Cal Crutchlow, there was Jonathan Rea and Livio Suppo (a long-time Rea fan) having a chat and there was Pramac Ducati’s Giacomo Guidotti and Leon Camier. Of course, all of them may have been merely discussing the price of fish, but on the other hand…
So that’s Redding’s clear aim: a factory Honda RC213V with Marc VDS.
“The team I was with last year did absolutely everything to help make me win,” he says. “They were 100 per cent behind me to win races, not just to go racing. They know I need to be there on the right bike and I know too because I can’t plateau now when I’m still on the way up. To make it you have to take more risks, train harder and work harder. I’m willing to do that but I need to have the right machinery underneath me to help me get there.”
Many thanks to Bennetts for help with this feature