Ex-BSB boss plans all-British 125 and 250GP teams
5 October 2006
Former British Superbike team owner Ben Atkins is facing a four-week countdown in an ambitious bid to launch new all-British teams in the 2007 125 and 250cc World Championships.
The Midlands based businessman plans to run two British riders in each of the two classes, and has already arranged bikes from Honda, and won approval from Dorna, the MotoGP organisers.
Atkins has also short-listed around six riders as potential team members, including Cal Crutchlow, 20, winner of the 2006 British Supersport championship with the Northpoint Ekerold Honda team.
Atkins, formerly owner of the Reve Red Bull Ducati team which won the 2001 British Superbike Championship with John Reynolds (middle picture), said: "We want to give young lads in the UK the opportunity to develop their skills at a higher level and one day become world champions. We want them to have the same opportunity that Spaniards and Italians enjoy."
Now Atkins is having final talks with potential sponsors so that he can finance initial rider tests in Spain in November.
"We need the go-ahead by the end of October to give Honda time to get the machinery sorted," he said. "We have four more weeks before time starts to get tight."
The venture would be called 'Team Tyro' - tyro means beginner, and comes from the Latin word for a recruit - and the team manager will be the experienced crew chief Nigel Bosworth (lower picture), who has previously worked in the Reve Red Bull and Foggy Petronas teams.
The other riders that Atkins is considering include Eugene Laverty and Leon Camier, both 20, who finished third and fourth in this year's British Supersport series, Craig Jones, 21, currently a Foggy Petronas factory rider in World Superbikes, Bradley Smith, 15, currently riding for Repsol Honda in 125cc GPs, Kev Coghlan, 18, a rider in the Red Bull MotoGP Aacademy, and 14-year-old Robbie Stewart, who finished fifth in this year's 125cc British championship, scoring a win and two podiums.
"We've put the infrastructure together, and talked to a lot of people who want to join us," Atkins said. "We're looking at a property in the Midlands as the team base. We want to do the world 125 and 250cc championships for the next two years, with two riders in each class. They would need one year to learn the circuits and the team, and in the second year we'd go full-out to win races.
"Honda has offered us a great deal on the bikes, and I'm now trying to confirm backing from sponsors, who are British-based international companies."
Britain has failed to produce a world champion in any grand prix class since Barry Sheene won the 500cc title in 1977. British racing has since focussed on production-based Superbikes, where Carl Fogarty, Neil Hodgson and James Toseland have won world championships.
Various British riders have tried to get to the top of grand prix racing, with only limited success. But the Ben Atkins project will be taken seriously, because of his pedigree in running competitive teams and his business-based approach to racing (he runs a mechanical and electrical engineering company in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire).