He came late to racing, it was his first time out in the PS CRMC Superstock series – and he clinched the title. This is how John Warwick swept to glory
PS CRMC Superstock Champion John Warwick on how he took the 2018 series by storm
CRMC stalwart Johnwarwick may have more race wins and championships than most but even he didn’t expect to win the Superstock series first time out. The garage owner from Mansfield turned 53 in November and came relatively late to racing in his early 40s after a major diet. “I’d not raced before that because I was too fat,” he says bluntly. “I used to be 23 stone and lost 10 to go racing.”
But he’s made up for that lost time (and weight) by becoming a CRMC regular, often across at least three classes, notching up numerous wins and titles along the way.
“I do as many classes as I can,” he says. “I’ve tried to work my way through. I sort of do it, win it and then move on to something else. For the last few years I’ve been doing 250 RD air-cooled which I’ve won the last two years. But I started out on a BSA Gold
Star, I’ve done air-cooled 500s, I also race an FZ600 and Bandit, even tried a TZ350.”
But the move to Superstock was still something of a stretch. John’s FZ was put together last year and he first tried it at Snetterton – but they didn’t get on. “I rushed it together and didn’t like it. It weren’t running right and was a big, heavy lump after the FZ600. I’ve run the 600 a few years and in comparison the 750 is miles apart in handling and weight. So, I just put it in the shed and left it.” But over winter I thought ‘Yeah, I’ll have another go’ and got it running right.”
Why an FZ? “Because they’re cheap, really. I’d love a GSX-R but you’re talking three, four grand before you start out…”
So, starting with a frame, John then found a rarer, Japanese market ‘1FM’ engine and built it up.
“It’s not bad to turn into a racer because you don’t have to buy all the original parts.you can make footrest brackets etc. I’m running Bandit wheels, 600 Bandit forks and a shock off ebay which is not very good but fits – plus a Micron exhaust off an FZR1000. It was about £1200 all in.” Over winter John got a replacement set of carbs, returned the jetting to standard and put an air filter in “because it had a Dynojet in before that was stuffing it up.”
All of which made John’s win at the season opener at Pembrey a surprise even for him.
“I’d only ridden it once before and didn’t get any practice but was lucky because it was so wet. It gave me an easier start. But I was still very surprised to win. I run Michelin Pilots in the wet and they seem to work quite good…”
The next day wasn’t quite so easy, though…
“On Sunday it dried up and I had a really good battle with Chriswhite on thevfr. That was more like I expected it to be.”
From that point on John never surrendered his series lead.white remained his closest rival while everfast fellow FZ contender Danny Imberg was a threat at the
“IN THE SECOND RACE A BIKE BLEW UP ON THE FIRST LAP AND SPILT OIL ALL THE WAY DOWN THROUGH THE CHICANE AND SIX OF US WENT DOWN. IT WAS CARNAGE”
rounds he contested.
John extended his lead at rain-hit Snetterton and was particularly pleased to beat Imberg, then came Oulton – where it seemed to all go wrong.
“In the second race a bike blew up on the first lap and spilt oil all the way down through the chicane and six of us went down. It was carnage. I went down and the bike caught fire but carried on going. I grabbed the extinguisher off the marshal, put it out, then shut it off.”
But damage was already done.
“The wiring was burnt out, all the paintwork had melted – it was a right state. But I managed to get it running for the last race that weekend and, though I had to start from the back of the grid, managed to get second which was fantastic.trouble was, on the last lap, the crank started to go. I could hear it rumbling. It had been on its side, carried on running it had run out of oil…”
More drama followed. Despite a new shell, the crank finally went at the next round at Darley.when a replacement engine was found, its plugs snapped. So, for Donington, the new engine had the head of the old – yet still wasn’t right.
“All the valve clearances were wrong and it was slow. But considering that and that Donington is quite a fast circuit, I did quite well. I got fourths which was as good as could be expected.
Clearances, sorted, the rest of the year was fault-free with John clinching the championship at the next round at Mallory then winning again at the Cadwell finale.
So, ‘mission accomplished’, is John now done with Superstocks, too?
“Considering all the problems, I managed to wrap it up with a round to go, so was really impressed, especially as there’s more to come from the FZ. So I might be sticking with it next year.then again, I also might be changing to something different. I’d really like a GSX-R but it’s not going to happen so it might be a Kawasaki GPX because no-one’s really run one…
And as for the series itself, he’s hooked. “It’s a good cheap class to get into racing. I actually rode AVFR the other year and they’re a good bike.there’s loads of power all the way through the rev range. So people can still get into it cheaply ’cos you can get one of those for like £800…
“Oulton was the low point – especially because it then knackered me for Darley as well. But the last race made up for it because I managed to come from the back of the grid and get second.you need the lows to get the highs, don’t you?”
Head down in grim determination
Heading last season’s runner-up Chris White (VFR)
Wet or dry JW was always mixing it at the front
In blue, red and white before the Oulton Park fire disaster
In post-inferno fancy grey primer – and still as quick as ever
Go to crmc.co.uk to see how you could join the superstock grid for 2019