A feature written by Crash.net viewer Layla Williams. Do you agree? Leave your comments below.

As previously reported, the inaugural British Motostar (125cc and Moto) Championship shockingly almost began without reigning 125cc champion Kyle Ryde.

Despite being Britain's youngest ever road racing champion, Ryde struggled to find any sponsorship to support his 2012 "campaign and was forced to postpone his dreams of riding in the Spanish Championship.

Ryde's story is far from an isolated case. Many riders no longer have the luxury of simply focusing on training during the week and racing at weekends. Instead, more and more are seemingly becoming a team manager and sponsor first and a rider second.

Is it possible for these riders to race to their full potential with such distractions, never knowing whether they will get from one round to the next?

Tim Hastings, riding for 2012 with MWR Kawasaki in the Superstock 600 class has had such struggles in recent years.

"It does affect your preparation although everybody is different and as such will be affected differently," he said. "Trying to ensure the smooth operation of a race team as well as competing and trying to do the best you can is not the ideal situation.

"Ideally a rider should be required to focus all his/her attentions on racing and leave the rest of the operations to team operatives. Without financial backing, many riders have no alternative but to run their own teams."

A common gripe for British fans is the lack of home grown success in recent years at MotoGP level, but how will this ever change if young riders are not helped along by those that can; especially those who have proven their potential?

By contrast, it seems young Spanish and Italian stars can get the backing they need, which may have been the reason that the current crop of British grand prix riders - except Cal Crutchlow - saw a non-British championship as a better route into world championship racing. Bradley Smith, Scott Redding, Danny Webb and Danny Kent all reached grand prix through the Spanish 125cc series.

This is not to say those Spanish and Italian riders don't deserve that support, but where those countries differ is they seem to see the potential from such a young age and then support them from their early development through to the end of their careers.

British 'culture' dictates that as much as the media support sport stars or so called 'celebrities' they must also turn their backs on them and let the negative press overcome any good that they did before. This mentality must stop before bike racers get the recognition they truly deserve and their sponsorship hunt becomes a pre-season task and not season long struggle.

These Spanish and Italian riders don't get support because they are bike racers, but because they are sport stars. Fans and fellow sport stars themselves are all familiar with a wide range of different disciplines whether they follow the sport or not.

This was highlighted in the wake of the tragic death of Marco Simoncelli when the sporting world grieved as one. AC and Inter Milan football players paid tribute to the Italian on the pitch and wins in almost every sport were dedicated to the fallen hero.

British bike racing fans obviously showed their respect, but if you'd have spoken to top England football stars would they have even known his name?

Supporting British racers shouldn't be about 'sponsoring bike racers' but backing home grown stars that go out there to excel at their sport while entertaining the fans, with no bearing on what their discipline actually is.

Although riders would like to have a secure budget for a season before they start this is now not often the case as Hastings, who has also supported himself through his racing explained.

"The ideal situation would be to have a budget in place that would be sufficient to complete an entire season. Since I started racing I have never had this luxury we have always taken it on a race by race basis," he said.

"Even though I had won several club championships at an early age as well as winning the British 125cc Cup Championship twice, there were no offers of sponsorship. In 2007 we subsequently set up a fundraising initiative aimed specifically at race fans which to date has proved to be beneficial to my successes."

Hastings added: "Running round at the back on uncompetitive machinery just simply isn't going to get you noticed, although winning races is no guarantee that you are automatically going to get sponsors queuing up waiting to hand you free rides."

2012 will see established World Championship stars like Noriyuki Haga and Luca Scassa join the ever evolving British Superbike series, but this should not distract from the support the young up and coming riders desperately need.

They are the future and without backing from governing bodies and company sponsors, talent may fall through the cracks because they simply cannot afford to go out there and show what they are capable of.

Some of the pressures could be taken off these private teams if organisers encourage more sponsorship of the younger riders, not just the top BSB teams, as with 6 hour TV coverage there is almost equal exposure for all championship levels.

Hastings has mixed feelings on the influx of foreign stars:

"I guess everyone makes their own luck to a degree. I don't begrudge anyone getting a ride ahead of me, they just did a better job than me or had a better PR person. Although I have seen riders I have competed against and beat regularly in the British Championship go on to ride in GP's and abroad and never had any similar offers, I just concentrate on my next race and try to do the best I can and always try to enjoy my racing".

BSB has 8 non-British riders out of 32, compared with a similar 8 non-Spanish riders out of a grid of 26 in the Spanish Formula Extreme Championship (Superstock).

On the opposite side of the scale is the AMA Superbike Championship which, following recent controversial rule changes, no longer seems to appeal for foreign riders. This is highlighted by only 3 Australians competing, with Americans making up the rest of the 25-strong grid.

Some may not like foreign stars taking top rides in BSB, but few can dispute that it raises the statute of the series, increases TV audiences and boosts fans coming through the gates. That all contributes to BSB's growing health, illustrated by the addition of an overseas round at Assen in 2012.

But some fans feel the organisers need to do more to support young riders coming through the ranks, like Kyle Ryde, although Hastings sees it from another perspective.

"You could argue that the organisers promote the series and provide the platform from which teams and riders can then find their own sponsors and if the series wasn't a success then finding sponsorship would be even harder than it normally is."

However Ryde's mum, Janine, does feel that direct support should be provided: "I agree that the organisers need to help our young talent; it is an expensive sport and if kids have the talent they should get the support.

"If Kyle did not race he could be hanging out on the streets causing trouble, I'm not saying it would happen because as a parent you would always do your best to prevent this, but if they have an outlet they enjoy and are good at then help should be available."

Most riders now don't take a wage from racing; they do what they do for their love of the sport while entertaining the fans in the process, but will often struggle for support when they need it.

Now is also a great time for not only companies to get involved in sponsoring but also for the fans; being a sponsor isn't just about being a title backer because every little helps. A few friends coming together to pay a tyre budget for a round could make all the difference to a rider's season.

Who knows, they could even have a small hand in shaping the journey of a future champion.


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