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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor