England expects: Scott Redding heads home to Silverstone
On Friday Scott Redding will head out on track for the first free practice session ahead of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. He’ll do so as the Moto2 World Championship leader and with the weight of British expectation on his shoulders.
A daunting prospect for most 20-year-olds, but not Redding, who looks forward to racing in front of his home crowd each year.
“Your home Grand Prix is always special, mainly because of the fans. You can feel the support when you’re there and you can see it everywhere you go. It’s a special feeling to know all these people have come out to support you and the other British riders.”
And the support is obvious, with the stands filled with flags and banners, a lot of which feature the now distinctive number 45.
“When you go out on track for a session and you see all flags and banners in the stands, you get goose bumps. Not just the first time; every time. And then there’s the clapping and cheering, which really motivates you and makes you feel almost invincible.
The support really is incredible, but in the race you don’t tend to see it, because you’re focussed on the race. Last year was different though. When I overtook Marc Marquez last season I could see everyone standing up and cheering on the last lap after they’d seen the pass on the big screens. It was a bit like at Donington in 2008 when I won my first race; you just feel a change in the atmosphere around the track. It’s incredible.
But it’s during the build up to the race where you feel it most, when you’re walking around the paddock or doing something with one of the sponsors in the public areas.
It adds to the motivation, without a doubt. I know some riders who feel under pressure because of the expectation, but I like it. It adds to the feeling of invincibility knowing that everyone is there, cheering you on and hoping to see you on the podium, preferably the top step.”
And Redding is no stranger to the podium at the British Grand Prix. The 20-year-old Briton stood on the top step after winning the 2008 British 125cc Grand Prix at Donington and he was there again, this time in third place, the following year. Last season he returned once again to the podium, this time in the Moto2 class, after taking a hard fought second place at Silverstone.
“It’s a great feeling, because you’re looking down on a British crowd and you know they’re happy to see a British rider up on the podium from the cheers. It’s what they all came to see; to watch a British rider win, or at least finish on the podium, so it’s great when you get the chance to repay them for their support by giving them what they came for.”
The Moto2 Championship leader already has two wins to his name this season, after taking victory at Le Mans and Mugello, but can he make it three in front of his home crowd this weekend?
“There’s no reason why a win shouldn’t be possible this weekend. I go into almost every weekend looking for the win now. There are only maybe two or three tracks where I know I may have to settle for a podium finish rather than the win; maybe the track doesn’t suit the bike or there’s a long straight that punishes my size, but Silverstone isn’t one of those tracks. I always go into this race looking for the win, and the same is true this time around.”
Redding remains a fan favourite in Great Britain, which means he’s very much in demand during his home race, not just by the fans but also by the British media, who will be out in force at the British Grand Prix.
“The schedule is very tight at every race, but it’s much more obvious at your home race when you’re trying to dedicate as much time as possible to meeting the fans, doing appearances and supporting sponsors, for whom Silverstone is a very important race too.
We try to get all the media stuff out of the way on the Thursday, so that I can spend the small amount of free time I have on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday talking to the fans rather than to a camera or a journalist. This is important for me, because the support I’ve received from the British race fans has been incredible and this is the only time I really get to thank them for that.”
Having already confirmed that he’ll step up to the premier MotoGP class next season, Redding is well aware that one question is going to be on everyone’s lips, fans and journalists alike, at Silverstone this weekend.
“I must have been asked what I’m doing next year a thousand times already. It’s been asked in every interview I’ve done in the last two months and I’m sure it’s going to be the question everyone wants the answer to at Silverstone. But, until the team are ready to make an official announcement, all I can say at the moment is that I’ll be racing in MotoGP next season.”
And what does Redding count as the best thing about racing at home?
“The support you get from the home crowd is unbelievable, and very humbling, so I’d have to say that the best thing about your home race is the fans; without a doubt.”