Get­ting up close with BSB’S new kid on the block – Bradley Ray

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Front Page - OLI RUSHBY BSB RE­PORTER oli.rushby@mo­tor­cy­cle­

20-year-old Bradley Ray charged into the Ben­netts British Su­per­bike lime­light with a stun­ning de­but dou­ble vic­tory in the open­ing round at Don­ing­ton Park.

Ahead of the sec­ond round MCN sat down with the big-haired young gun to find out more about BSB’S lat­est front run­ner.

MCN: Has it sunk in yet? BR: Not 100%. I haven’t had time to sit down and think about it but as the days have gone on it’s been like ‘Wow, I re­ally did that!’

It’s such a weird feel­ing, I won the first race of the year and then made it a dou­ble. It’s like a dream!

For a 20-year-old you’ve al­ready had quite a colour­ful rac­ing ca­reer... We’ve raced in all sorts of cham­pi­onships over the years from Bri­tain to Red Bull Rook­ies to Span­ish Cham­pi­onships…

What was your high­light be­fore the week­end’s dou­ble win? It has to be win­ning the Red Bull Rook­ies race in Austin, Texas in 2013 – it was the first race of the year and the first ever mo­tor­cy­cle race around the Cir­cuit of the Amer­i­cas. I cleared off as well!

How hard is it to be a young Brit try­ing to make a name for your­self on the in­ter­na­tional stage? It’s dif­fi­cult. When we were in the Red Bull Rook­ies and do­ing the Span­ish cham­pi­onship, for the Brits you have to stand out mas­sively from the Ital­ians and the Span­ish to get an op­por­tu­nity. All the teams are Span­ish and Ital­ian and those coun­tries have so many good kids com­ing through so un­der­stand­ably they go for their own riders. That meant for us the only way to get into a team was to pay the money. I went with Mark Keane and KRP and did a year in the Span­ish cham­pi­onships. To try and make it out there was dif­fi­cult.

What are your long term aims? Any young­ster on the way up is go­ing to say Mo­togp and that’s no dif­fer­ent for me. It’s where I want to be, but I’m go­ing to have to take a dif­fer­ent route to get there. The step af­ter BSB has to be World Su­per­bikes and then see where we go from there. If it ends up with me be­ing in WSB for a while then that’s it, but the ul­ti­mate goal is Mo­togp – whether that’s pos­si­ble I’m not too sure.

It is still pos­si­ble to get there through that route, Cal Crutchlow did it and also Sam Lowes. Alex Lowes also got cho­sen for Mo­togp wild­cards based on his World Su­per­bike per­for­mances. It’s dif­fi­cult, be­cause GP teams so of­ten look at Moto3 and Moto2, but it’s not im­pos­si­ble. Crutchlow proved that.

How did you pull off that race two start? To be hon­est it was one of those where I was sat on the grid look­ing at the lights think­ing ‘They’ve got to change soon!’ And as soon as the lights went out I dropped the clutch. I sur­prised my­self a bit. I thought I’d jump started but my re­ac­tion time was so quick, the bike hooked up well and I just went for it!

It sounds a bit strange, but Hawk en­tered me for an EMRA class meet at the start of the year at Mal­lory and we had five races in a day there, so that’s five race starts. Through the win­ter you don’t do any­thing and I think do­ing those five race starts at Mal­lory got me ready for when the lights went out, whereas the other boys haven’t had the chance to do real-time race starts through win­ter so they’re a bit rusty!

Is it weird rac­ing peo­ple like Haslam and Shakey? It’s bonkers! Last year I was rac­ing against them and be­ing be­hind them was one thing, but to be bat­tling with Haslam, Byrne, El­li­son – who I used to watch as a kid when I went up to Brands on the back of my Dad’s bike – is in­sane. I used to walk up and down the pad­dock think­ing these guys were amaz­ing, so to be look­ing down from the top step of the podium with Shakey and Haslam next to me was sur­real. I was speech­less.

What made it pos­si­ble? I think it’s a com­bi­na­tion of things. The team have worked re­ally hard over the win­ter to im­prove the bike in the ar­eas where we strug­gled a lot last year. But I’ve also changed my rid­ing style quite a bit to ride the bike more like a su­per­bike and less like a 600. I think I still am rid­ing like a 600. With the Suzuki you can get away with that a bit but I do think my style needs to change a bit more.

How do you feel about rid­ing in front of your home crowd at Brands? It’ll be in­ter­est­ing! It’s not just my home round though, is it? It’s Shakey’s too! I don’t mind the Brands Indy cir­cuit. It’s not one of my favourites but last year we got an eighth and a tenth there in the sec­ond race of the year so I’m feel­ing pretty con­fi­dent. With the re­sults we got last year and the im­prove­ments we’ve made with the bike I feel we can be strong. When a new rider reaches the front there are al­ways ques­tions about fight­ing for the ti­tle. Have you thought about it much? Yes, ev­ery­one keeps ask­ing me about it! I’d like to think it’s pos­si­ble af­ter the week­end. It’s early days and there are 24 races to go. The first race was bone dry, the sec­ond race was iffy con­di­tions and ev­ery time we’ve been out we’ve been around the top six and that’s a big con­fi­dence boost. We’ve got good pace in all con­di­tions which bodes well for the rest of the year. It’s dif­fi­cult to gauge it on the first round with ev­ery­one get­ting into the swing of things, but I’ve got more to give, too, so I hope we can be there at the end of the year.

You don’t look like a bike racer... Not at all! I think it’s great, I love the idea of com­ing in from rid­ing and shock­ing peo­ple when I do take my hel­met off and all the hair comes out, the glasses go on and there’s a goofy lit­tle kid stood there! It’s bril­liant.

I used to have a grade four all over my head, but then I just grew my hair out and it went mas­sive and curly so I thought ‘fair enough’. Each time I go to the hair dressers I get more and more spon­ta­neous, it’s good to be dif­fer­ent!

Ray re­ceives his prize watch from MSV boss Jonathan Palmer Ray hasn’t just got big hair, the 20-year-old has big am­bi­tions, too

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