Sunday was a heaven for sports lovers. Not only was there plenty of choice, it was eventful and, at some venues, emotional. Across the Premier League, at Wembley and at Lord’s, there was a finality. At Le Mans in France, it was more a case of “finally” for Gloucester’s Scott Redding as he won a Moto2 Grand Prix for the first time.
Redding is still only 20, yet he is already an experienced rider competing across the world. Today, after a win at one of the world’s most famous circuits, he leads the Moto2 riders championship five years after announcing his arrival in the sport.
In 1998, Redding, then aged 15, won the British round of the 125cc World Championship. I first met him a few days after his win at Donington Park at his dad Adrian’s home in Quedgeley, a sprawling mass of modern houses on the outskirts of Gloucester. There was nowhere to put the huge trophy, and his bike was in the back garden. You wondered what would become of a boy who clearly loved nothing more than racing a motor bike. A long term future in education was never on his radar. The question was whether someone could harness that raw ability.
A year later, I watched Redding defend his title first hand at Donington, spending the day with his manager at the time, Roger Keys. Inevitably perhaps, all Redding wanted was for the bike to go faster. He wasn’t a great tactician at that stage, but in the warm up he was constantly talking to the mechanics and looking at the lap times. As a first timer inside a team garage, the high level of technical support was a real eye opener.
Again the home crowd inspired Redding to a podium finish, this time in third place. I remember Roger telling me a move was inevitable. Redding was still growing was becoming too tall for a 125cc machine. It was up to him to find the right class, even if it meant their relationship might end as a result.
The men who saw – and believed – in Redding’s talent were based in Belgium. Marc van der Straten had a history in four wheel motor sport, but his move into Moto2 in 2010 saw his sign up Redding in an arm of the Marc VDS team run by Michael Bartholemy.
The first year together was overshadowed by his innocent involvement in the accident that saw rider Shoya Tomizawa lose his life. 2011 was a season of peaks and troughs but in 2012, after Redding advocated a change of chassis for the bike, came a series of consistent performances and regular points. He finished fifth in the championship, but with two of the riders above him – Marc Marquez and Andrea Iannone – moving up to Moto GP, a door of opportunity opened.
With a new contract in his pocket, Redding had started the season with two second places and a fifth before Sunday’s victory. Britain hasn’t had a world champion since the late Barry Sheene in the 1970’s. There is a long way to go, and this year the British Grand Prix is much later than normal at the beginning of September, but five years after he sent 60,000 fans into Donington delirium, Redding’s comfort with his bike and his team could be bad news for the competition.
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