Robbie Burns is a man prepared to put his money where his mouth is and he's beginning to learn that running a British Supersport championship team requires plenty of both.

Burns runs a successful haulage firm, Vitrans, in Edinburgh - his fleet of almost 40 trucks delivering chilled meat to supermarkets all over the UK - but the 47-year old was introduced to motorcycle sport just two years ago through Scottish rider, Callum Ramsay, and now feels comfortable with the fact that he's in the game for the long haul.

"I was originally into football," Burns explains, "and ran quite a successful team in Stranraer. It was a semi-professional outfit, but I got frustrated at not being able to achieve more success and started Team Vitrans with Callum last year."

The one-rider squad contested last year's British Supersport championship on a Suzuki, but moved over to Honda's blistering new CBR600RR for 2003, adding another rider in the form of Michael Laverty from Northern Ireland. Burns appointed Sally Roberts as team co-ordinator, calling on her extensive racing knowledge, most recently with Team Ireland in the 2001 British Supersport championship.

Although running with Suzuki herself last year, Roberts previously had many years experience working with Dutch Honda tuning specialist Gerrit Ten Kate, whose team won the 2002 World Supersport championship with Fabien Foret.

"Sally persuaded me that we had to go with Ten Kate for our bikes and Pirelli for our tyres," Burns reveals, "and I followed her advice. But, because the CBR was a new model for 2003, we only got our bikes five days before the first race."

These were not the ideal circumstances in which to prepare for a first full-on assault on the British championship, but Laverty was still able to deliver the team's first victory in the second round at Snetterton in Norfolk.

"It felt really good," Burns admits, "I love winning, but I have to admit that I also find it incredibly frustrating when we lose."

Ramsay, the 2001 British 250cc champion, parted company with the team prior to round four at Oulton Park, when the team drafted in talented Australian rider Dean Thomas.

"Dean has a lot of experience at British and World level," says Burns, "and we felt that his background would help to raise the whole of Team Vitrans to a higher level of performance. Half the mechanics are volunteers, and only work on race weekends so we're building and learning all the time."

Part of that learning has led to a recent European adventure for the Scottish team and Thomas and Laverty contested a Dutch Supersport championship round at Assen on 25 May, while stopping off for some engine work at Ten Kate's workshop in Nieuwleusen in Holland. Thomas finished fourth in the event while Laverty, after starting in 20th place and riding through the field, tangled with back markers on the final lap and crashed out of third place.

The odyssey continues this weekend with the first of four forays into the 2003 World Supersport championship at Oschersleben in Germany. Team Vitrans will also compete in the Silverstone, Brands Hatch and Assen rounds of the series.

"We've got plans for this team," Burns confides, "and hope to attract more sponsors for next season like Regatta clothing, who are enjoying their first involvement in motorsport through us this year.

"This two-week expedition in Europe has given the riders more time on the bikes, and has allowed them to measure themselves against different levels of competition. Hopefully, this will lead to better results and more wins back in Britain."

It'll be a long haul back to Scotland after this weekend's World Supersport race, but Burns will be looking forward to reaping the dividends at Brands Hatch for the sixth round British Superport championship outing on 22 June.

 

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