Viewed from one side, British motorcycle racing hasn't been in this good a shape in over three decades. Just over a year ago, Danny Kent won the nation's first grand prix world championship since 1977, while four men from the home countries will compete in the top class in the year ahead, one of those now a MotoGP race winner.
Yet a cast an eye over the other grand prix categories and you'll soon find there isn't a deep well of talent ascending the GP ladder. Kent is the sole British entry in Moto2 for '17, and John McPhee is the lone name in Moto3. Looking at the various feeder classes, and only 15-year old Rory Skinner jumps out as a grand prix star in the making.
With that in mind, it appears MotoGP organiser Dorna is keen to bolster the flow of young Brits into the world championship in the coming years, as Alberto Puig has explained in a recent interview on motogp.com
As Crash.net reported in September
, a new, Dorna-backed squad – named the 'British Talent Team' – will run McPhee in a one-rider team aboard factory Honda machinery in the upcoming Moto3 season.
But Puig has revealed that Dorna is hopeful of establishing “some kind of British Talent Cup' in the upcoming years, which could establish young riders worthy of a world championship berth, much in the same way the 'Asia Talent Cup' has recently promoted names like Ayumu Sasaki, Kaito Toba and Nakarin Atiratphuvapat – now all present in Moto3.
Whether this would run as a part of MSV's BSB series is as yet unknown, as is a potential start date. Nevertheless, Puig outlined the thinking behind the idea, saying, “Dorna is a company that is taking care of the development of the sport and it's really behind the younger generations.”
“Basically for 2017 there is an idea to start to investigate and research the possibilities to expand and work on the racing in England. Probably we are going to try and make some selection programme during this year and the target or the goal would be to make some kind of 'British Talent Cup', or something like this, in the next years.
“If we want to expand the motor racing in England we have to create a cup where kids can come and race, like we did in Asia and like we did in Spain. But also they must have some target, some place they can go if they make some good results.
“So a team will start this year to be as a reference for these young kids. This team that we start to run this year with John McPhee, because he's the guy that has been chosen to do it this year. From then we will see how things go," said Puig, while admitting he is still unsure of the exact direction the series will take.
“Normally when we start a project, to be honest, we don't know where we will get, but we know where we will start. So now we decided to start. Where we will get, we don't know.
“When we started the Asian Talent Cup we never knew where we would get to. Now we have Sasaki, Toba and Nakarin that will race this year in the world championship. Last year Sasaki won the Rookies Cup so they are making a big step in a short time.”
Details such as the personnel and sponsorship of McPhee's team as yet remain unclear, although Puig was recruited to man the squad as he saw fit. One name mentioned was that of 250GP winner Jeremy McWilliams, who has been earmarked for a role within the team.
“If we can do this in England we will be happy but at this moment it's difficult to say,” said Puig. “There's a group of people that has been selected to take care of this team. They will do their best. They know what they have to do. We are happy to put all these people together that will take care and will be responsible for this.
“Our idea is to have some guy that represents or takes care, or let's say, to be in touch with the rider. We were thinking of Jeremy McWilliams. We believe he is a guy with a lot of experience [and is] a very nice guy that can help us a lot to develop, not just this team, but also the future racing and the future research and sculpting of young kids in England.”
Puig also spoke of Britain's long tradition in motorcycle racing, but it is likely Dorna's reasoning on this matter also stems from TV coverage. Broadcaster BT Sport, still negotiating a deal to broadcast the series beyond 2018, pays a hefty fee for television rights, and having a British presence in all three classes is vital.
“It's true that Britain has a lot of tradition in racing,” added Puig. “I'm sure the racing tradition is down there. You just have to go and try and take it out. Maybe we will find something. Normally when a country has been strong at some point in something it's difficult to believe that it's over for them. We try to help and support the possibilities of different countries.”