Motorcycling: Reynolds to race just 37 days after breaking leg

John Reynolds will start the defence of his British Superbike championship at Brands Hatch today only 37 days after breaking his right leg in five places in a testing accident on his Rizla Suzuki.

John Reynolds will start the defence of his British Superbike championship at Brands Hatch today only 37 days after breaking his right leg in five places in a testing accident on his Rizla Suzuki.

The 39-year-old Nottingham rider will check how his shattered leg feels after two 50-minute practice sessions on his 200-horsepower bike on the 1.23-mile Indy circuit at the Kent circuit. But no matter what pain or discomfort he experiences, Reynolds is determined that he will be back on the track for tomorrow's qualifying sessions and Monday's two championship races.

"I'm going there to try to win," Reynolds said. "The problem with the Indy circuit at Brands is that if you're just half a second off the pace, you're buried at the back of the pack. If I don't win, I at least want to score points in both races and get the season off to a good start."

Reynolds' leg was so badly mangled when he crashed during a test session on the Valencia circuit last month that a normal person would be off work for months. But motorcycle racers are renowned for their ability to blank out fear and pain, and Reynolds will clock into his office - the cockpit of his 200mph Suzuki - at precisely 1.50pm today.

"I've asked my technicians to alter my right-foot brake settings so I can move around the bike more easily, but apart from that I'm ready," he said.

The team manager, Robert Wicks, said: "It's miraculous that "JR" has recovered sufficiently in just over five weeks to race at the opening round. The British bulldog determination and effort he has put into healing has been inspirational."

Reynolds had no alternative if he wanted a realistic chance of fighting for his fourth title. This season the championship will reach its most competitive level ever, with a dozen riders capable of winning one of the 26 races during the 13 rounds, and half a dozen of them having serious title ambitions.

Experts reckon that the British series is motorcycling's third most important championship, after the MotoGP and World Superbike series.

Reynolds' most feared rival - and his motivation for trying to score early points - is Michael Rutter, Honda's 31-year-old team leader. Rutter has twice been runner-up in the championship and twice finished third. Honda's legendary HRC racing department in Japan is providing him with a hand-crafted, £250,000 version of the Fireblade that racing fans can buy for £8,500 in a dealer's showroom.

Pressure will also come from Reynolds' team-mate, 29-year-old Scott Smart, who has championships coursing through his blood: his father, Paul, and late uncle, Barry Sheene, were racing stars of the Seventies. Smart won three races last year on the underdog Hawk Kawasaki, a performance that earned him promotion to the meticulously organised Suzuki squad.

"Now I'm in a team that can give me even more resources to win," he said. "I know how to get the best out of a bike, and I don't give up - if I fall off I'll dig the bike out of the gravel trap and get back in the race. And if I do well there could be a stepping stone from the British series to Suzuki's teams in world superbikes and MotoGP."

Five manufacturers are supporting the series, including Ducati, who field the 21-year-old Derbyshire rider Leon Haslam. Haslam will ride the bike that James Toseland took to the 2004 World Superbike championship in the Airwaves GSE team, where he will be managed by Colin Wright, who helped to guide Toseland, Neil Hodgson and Troy Bayliss to World Superbike titles.

"I was two seconds faster than anyone else during testing in Valencia and Albacete, so now I'm ready to push myself against the other British Superbike riders," Haslam said.

The riders are not the only stars of the British series. The 35 competitors will perform on circuits that are primitive by grand prix standards, with limited run-off areas and a profusion of earth banks, but offer spectacular action on their sweeping curves.

British Superbike Championship

Monday Brands Hatch

10 April Thruxton

24 April Mallory Park

2 May Oulton Park

15 May Mondello Park (Irl)

5 June Croft

26 June Knockhill

10 July Snetterton

21 Aug Silverstone

29 Aug Cadwell Park

11 Sept Oulton Park

25 Sept Donington Park

9 Oct Brands Hatch GP

Super talents six to watch

* John Reynolds, 39,

(Rizla Suzuki GSX-R1000)

The reigning champion starts with a broken leg, but no one on the grid is tougher than "JR"

* Michael Rutter, 31,

(HM Plant Honda Racing Fireblade)

Twice a runner-up in the series, he starts as favourite after Reynolds' pre-season crash

* Leon Haslam, 21,

(Airwaves Ducati F04)

One of Britain's young hopes. Brings grand prix and World Superbike experience to the home scene

* Jeremy McWilliams, 40,

(Stobart Honda Fireblade)

Brilliant development rider has competed in 186 grand prix races, but is unfamiliar with British tracks

* Scott Smart, 29, (Rizla Suzuki GSX-R1000)

Reynolds' team-mate and nephew of Barry Sheene and son of superbike star Paul Smart, seeks breakthrough

* Ryuichi Kiyonari, 22,

(HM Plant Honda Racing Fireblade)

Japanese sensation has been fast in pre-season testing on a Fireblade hand-made in Japan. Rutter's team-mate

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Sport
Harry Redknapp. Mark Hughes and Ryan Shawcross
footballNews and updates as Queens Park Rangers host the Potters
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
New Articles
i100... with this review
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
i100
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam