WHO’S THE NEXT BARRY SHEENE?
These young racers on the GP scene are hoping to be Britain’s next big thing
British motorcycle racing is flying high right now, with some serious talent contesting the Motogp world title. But there are plenty of young guns working through the ranks who look set to carry on where Cal and Co leave off… One such talent is 15-year-old Scotsman Rory Skinner. He first came to light in 2014 when he blitzed the opposition in the Aprilia Superteens class to become champion of a series which kickstarted the careers of riders such as Casey Stoner, Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith.
His Superteens achievement was enough to draw attention from the Racing Steps Foundation, who helped fund his entry into the RFME Spanish Cup Moto3 class for 2015 – the level below the CEV Moto3/junior World Championship. He also secured a spot to compete in Motogp’s feeder category, the Red Bull Rookies Cup.
Skinner spent most of the 2015 season familiarising himself with the more powerful Moto3spec KTM and European circuits, but after a strong weekend at Aragon in the Spanish Cup, the youngster went on to show real form when returning to the circuit for the final round of the Red Bull Rookies. Securing pole position for the weekend’s two races, he then took two podium finishes and demonstrated stunning race-craft, having to fend off aggressive attacks from older, more experienced racers.
“The ultimate goal for me is to be world champion and I’m not going to stop until I achieve that,” says Skinner, who is now racing in the Junior World Championship. “I believe I’m on the right track at the moment and I’ll keep working hard until I achieve that goal.”
Skinner’s 2016 season didn’t get off to the best of starts as he broke his wrist highsiding out of a podium spot in the opening round of the Junior World Championship at Valencia. While bad luck would see Skinner struggle for the rest of the season in the JWC, the Scot took two podiums on his way to sixth in the Red Bull Rookies series.
Current Motogp rules state riders have to be 16 to race in Moto3 unless they win the Junior World Championship the year before. Having struggled to fight back after the injury despite a strong ninth place in the final race at Valencia, Skinner is facing another season in Spain before he can step up to Grand Prix level. But that’s not something that bothers the young upstart.
“Being in the Junior series for an extra year isn’t a bad thing at all. It’s better if you can go into Moto3 on a fast bike once you’ve won this series rather than going in with a lesser team. If you’re in the Junior championship for two years and consistently running at the front it can do no harm. Fabio Quartararo won this series and then went to GPS on a factory Honda!”
However, Skinner’s aspirations go beyond getting a good seat in Moto3. Having seen his idol, Marc Marquez, rise through the ranks to become Motogp world champion by the age of 20, Skinner is keen to follow the Spaniard’s path.
“With so many young riders coming through, you have to move up and progress quickly. Ideally, I want to be racing in Motogp by the time I’m 20 years old, but it’s something you’ve got to work hard for and the next three or four years are going to be crucial to this.”
2015: Skinner took pole and a podium finish in both Red Bull Rookie races at Aragon
2016: Skinner on the Aragon Red Bull Rookies podium again, with Aleix Viu and Kaito Toba