WorldSBK: Redding – A career revitalised
Throughout the winter, it was inevitable that Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) would clock up a win in the early rounds of WorldSBK. From the moment he stepped into the WorldSBK paddock, his confidence has been sky high. An opening round with a trio of third place finishes was a solid opening gambit but the Spanish circuit was always likely to be one where he could win races.
Redding has always enjoyed racing at Jerez, with numerous top five Grand Prix finishes and he was keen to hit the ground running on his first weekend back racing. When you consider how far Redding has come in the last three years, it really does illustrate a career revived. The Scott Redding arriving in Spain was startling compared to how he left Spain in 2018 having walked out of MotoGP™ with his career in tatters. He faced a crisis of identity. Was he washed up or was he a true racer?
For much of his childhood Redding had been bred as a fighter. He happened to be a damn good motorcycle racer but it wasn’t his passion; it was just what he was good at. Riding came easy to him. He had a depth of natural ability that hadn’t been seen in a British Grand Prix rider for a generation. He was as skilled as he was unfinished. Turning up to his 125GP debut he expected to be quick, after all, he was always quick. Putting his Aprilia on the front row surprised everyone in Qatar…except Redding. Why would the World Championship be any different he thought?
It had come easy to Redding. Possibly too easy. Once he was saddled with poor machinery he suddenly found out just how hard a slog racing at the top level can become and his win at Donington Park in 2008 became a distant memory. Over the next ten years he developed as a rider and a racer but the focus and attention to detail that we see from him is something that we didn’t always see during his MotoGP™ career. In the last 18 months, he has matured as a professional and a person.
Leaving Aprilia he said, “I’ve been training hard but it’s hard to find the motivation when you know results will be poor. I can lose as much weight as possible but it won’t make a difference. It’s hard and it’s demoralising to know that. I just want to be able to fight again.”
Fighting and clawing is something that he has learned to do after being hit over the head during his premier class career. It has made him appreciate the bigger picture.
“Everything is a new experience for me at the moment. This was the first time I’ve led a WorldSBK race from the start and in these hot conditions. Ten years ago in Malaysia I pulled out of a race in temperatures less than this. I decided to go and lead the race and manage the pressure. It’s these things that give you experience and it makes me feel at ease.
“If I have to go and do that race again I feel I am the rider in the paddock with the most confidence that can do it again. Everything is a new experience for me. If I feel comfortable to lead and go, I will lead and go. I am just putting ammunition into my box for the season and still learning.”
The mental arsenal that Redding is arming himself with will certainly help in the coming rounds. With hot weather almost guaranteed for the Portimao, Aragon and Catalan rounds of WorldSBK, the experience of Jerez will certainly make a difference. They will give him the confidence to know exactly what to expect.
His Ducati Panigale V4 R will also give him plenty of reasons to smile. In scorching track temperatures of over 60degrees Celsius, it was clear that the Ducati was the bike to have. It seemed to have some extra strings in its bow compared to rivals who in the cooler conditions, came to the fore. n Race 1 it was a controlled race at the front with Jonathan Rea leading from Redding until it was time to pounce. Once the #45 hit the front, there was little chance for Rea to counter attack.
“The bike is strong in the hotter condition but I don’t know why,” said Redding. “We struggled more in the morning at this circuit and in the Superpole Race, I gave everything, but they just had an edge. Different bikes, different tracks and you have strong points and weak points. I honestly thought we were going to struggle a little bit more because we are normally chasing edge grip. We did chase edge grip but I could take a lot of risk in the last sector to make it up.”
In Portimao, the strengths of the Ducati will still be evident and if edge grip is an issue it will manifest itself in Portugal. With hot temperatures forecast, it will be interesting to see if the Ducati can maintain its edge in the heat. For Scott Redding, these will be minor issues because for the first time since a Moto2™ title campaign in 2013, he finally feels that he is back where he belongs on the world stage.
This aritcle was oringinally published on WorldSBK.com