Bonovo Action BMW World Superbike rider, and former Bennetts BSB Champion, Scott Redding, admits that he feels racing has gone ‘soft’, and that the final round of the 2023 Bennetts British Superbike Championship was the ‘best last races of any season’ he can remember.
Talking exclusively to BikeSocial at the unveiling of his teams BMW M 1000 RR livery in Berlin, Redding felt that the rivalry between Tommy Bridewell and Glenn Irwin was exactly what racing needed, likening it to the rivalry between Valentino Rossi and Max Biaggi.
Bridewell took the title by half a point from his Beer Monster PBM Ducati teammate at a dramatic final round in October, which Redding attended, and the 2019 Champion admitted his ‘heart was in his throat’.
“It was awesome. That’s how racing should be. Motorcycle racing was known for that” expressed Redding at BMW Welt in Berlin.
“It’s all got a little bit soft; it’s all got political. Sitting on the sofa and watching an internal beef between riders already makes it 30 percent more interesting before they have left the start line.
“It was like Rossi and Biaggi, Rossi and Lorenzo, they hated each other and that’s what people want because you know you’re going to have a real fight. It’s personal on the track, when you watch a boxing match and you know it’s a personal hatred between the two you know it’s going to be a much better fight than two guys going there for business, and I feel that’s what racing should have, but over the years we’ve been pushed to like each other.
“Back in the day I hated everyone I raced against, I wouldn’t go for dinner with any of them, I wanted to destroy them. I personally liked the rivalry, I started to hear all the rumours and I went out of my own way to watch it, it was amazing.
“It’s kind of mad because I have a little of beef with the Irwin’s, we get along, but there was beef there, my wife and Tommy’s wife are good friends, I like Tommy, we’re from the same area so I’m obviously going to support him, but I felt in the paddock that more people were supporting Glenn. It felt like a warzone out there, it was a great atmosphere, and my heart was in my throat, it could have gone either way and it’s probably one of the best last races of a season of any championship for as long as I can remember, it was insane, that’s how it should be.”
Bridewell took the teams ninth British Superbike title in emotionally fashion, dedicating his maiden crown to his late brother, Ollie, then his late team owner Paul Bird who sadly passed away on 1st September 2023.
Bird played a part in the career of Redding, helping him and his Dad out when he began his racing life in mini-bikes, and then latterly in 2019 when he handed Scott a BSB lifeline after being dumped out of MotoGP by Aprilia.
Redding joined PBM with one goal in mind, to bring home Bird’s seventh crown, and after taking 11 victories and securing his first Bennetts BSB Championship by five points from teammate, and fierce rival, Josh Brookes.
And Redding admitted that his relationship with Birdy was ‘hot and cold’, but ultimately, he was proud to have ridden for the Cumbrian based outfit.
“He helped me out when I rode mini-bikes when we did our own thing, and he supported me when I was younger which I was nice. I always wanted to ride for his team, because I was associated with them, and then I did.
“He always said ‘I’ll get you on one of my bikes’, and for me it was the best team in BSB on the best bikes, so it made sense to go and do it. The bike and the team made it happen, that’s all that matters to me.
“It’s a real shame, he was a real good guy and I really appreciated everything he did for me. He was a big character, he did blow hot and cold, you never knew what you were going to get. He did a lot for the sport, I felt he had a lot more give the sport, but unfortunately it happens to the best of people.
“He was just hot and cold. Put it this way, we were at Brands Hatch, and I didn’t know which tyre to use, I’d never used intermediates, it was damp, I was asking everyone and nobody wanted to make a decision or take the blame.
“So, I made the call and went for intermediates, then he walks off the grid and says to me ‘that’s the wrong decision.’ I thought ‘mint, just what I need, on a wet track, starting pole and he does that.’ After the race he rinsed me, but that was the character he was, sometimes he was great, your best friend, other times he just didn’t like you, but that is how some people are, you either liked him or you didn’t, and a lot of people loved him and that’s all that matters.”
Since stepping away from Bennetts BSB to the WorldSBK paddock Redding has experienced mixed results, after fighting for the title with Ducati for two seasons he made the decision to jump ship to BMW, a decision which ultimately hasn’t yet paid off.
The Gloucester born man took three podiums for Shaun Muir’s factory outfit in 2022, including a second-place finish at Magny Cours, with a best result of fourth place on two occasions in 2023.
But for 2024 it is all change for Redding who moves to the sister BMW squad, Bonovo Action, after a reshuffling of riders due to the signature of 2021 World Champion, Toprak Razgatlioglu.
Redding is believed to have a four-year contract with the German factory, so after Toprak signed his deal with BMW something had to give, and that was Redding moving to the Bonovo squad to replace Loris Baz who was moved aside by the team, with the 31-year-old feeling it’s the right move for him at this stage of his career.
“I have to say I feel it’s a very positive change for me, I feel happy, at the Bonovo team it has a very family feel environment which is something I respect because there isn’t a lot of that in racing anymore. I have gelled really well; the people are fantastic and it makes me more excited for racing because I feel like I’m going to have a good time this year with the guys as well.
“Toprak came in and someone had to go, there were a lot of things going on, but BMW did the best they can to sort the situation and for me I feel it’s going to be a lot better, so it was a good choice for that really. From the riding side it was at the end of the season (testing), I didn’t have a lot to prove, but it was mega, I got to know the guys, understand the team and it was fantastic.
“They’re a great bunch of guys, I love the way they work and how they work together as a team. When I say team, I don’t mean one side and the other side, both sides really work well together and I think they can offer me a lot, so I’m happy, I’m looking forward to it.
“I’ve asked him (Toprak), but he’s not done anything yet, he’s been given the bike that we’ve been developing for three years, and he got to ride it and showed what he can do, which is fine. He seems to like the bike, there are some things he isn’t happy with, some of the comments are very similar to what I’ve been saying, which is what I’ve been saying for many years, so that is good and hopefully BMW can improve those things. He just needs more time on the bike really to figure it all.”
For 2024 BMW have introduced a dedicated test team and enlisted the services of ex WorldSBK Champion Sylvain Guintoli, and former MotoGP podium finisher Bradley Smith, in order to speed up development, which BMW has invested heavily into.
The test team is something that excites Redding, as the last two seasons has seen him be both racer and test rider, which he feels hindered his results.
BMW maybe late to the party with the introduction of a dedicated testing outfit, and they haven’t done it on the cheap, they are leaving no stone unturned in the pursuit of success, much like their competition.
“Kawasaki have Florian Morino testing for them, Ducati have Pirro, Honda for sure have people out in Japan testing the bike, so they do have test teams, it’s just that we had nothing, I was the rider, I was the test rider, the racer and especially with Mikey (Van Der Mark) being out injured for most of the season a lot of it was on me and that made it hard.
“So now that weight is off my shoulders, I think Bradley (Smith) is a great test rider, I actually put his name forward, I know that Brad is a real hard worker, in my opinion he’s not the most talented outright guy, but he’s a grafter, he’s a worker and he’s very detailed so as a development rider he’s very good for the project.
“When they went for him, I was happy with that because I think he can bring a lot to the table for us. Time will tell, but you need to put in the resources and the effort to get the outcome, and maybe they’ve missed that in the last few years so now you should start to see more progress.
“There has been a lot of change in people, that was the first step, which was hard but, in the end, I think they’ve finally realised. They started the project with Tom Sykes, he struggled with results, they took me from a Championship contender and I struggled for results, now they have Toprak but the problem isn’t the rider, the bike needs to meet the ability of the rider to go forward, and now I think they can see that and are putting the effort in the right areas to go forwards.”
After two difficult years within the factory, a switch to the Bonovo Action team could be the catalyst to re-ignite Redding’s chances of winning races and being back up at the sharp end.
He also admitted that after two challenging seasons he never doubted himself and his abilities, but he did go onto say that he and his new team have to be ‘realistic’ with what they want to achieve in 2024.
“I haven’t doubted myself; I was still top BMW rider most of the time. It’s not like when I was in MotoGP and you’ve not been a winner and you’re just there, then it’s different. But when I’ve come from winning races and fighting for a Championship with Ducati, I know that in that category I can win races.
“So when I’m not getting results I know that’s not me, so that was the good thing and mentally I was ok with that. I could still get the results, it was reasonably good and ok I wasn’t winning, I go racing to win, but I was still able to show potential.
“We’ve got to be realistic, it would be nice to win races but if we can get the bike a little bit more consistent, make myself more comfortable with the bike and generally be in the battle and not be 15 to 20 seconds behind, we need to be actually racing, and be able to go with the front group, that’s what I want this year.”