The curtain has fallen on the international motorcycle racing season, but for English rider Scott Redding, the winter is a chance to recalibrate and prepare for his next challenge.
After wrapping up the fiercely fought 2019 British Superbike Championship aboard a Ducati Panigale V4 R,the Gloucestershire native barely stopped for breath before climbing aboard the Aruba.it Ducati on which he’ll contest the 2020 FIM Superbike World Championship (pictured above).
Momentum undiminished, he set the fastest time on the final day of WorldSBK testing at the MotorLand Aragon circuit in rain-lashed Spain, then followed that with the quickest lap by a Ducati when the 2020 contenders moved to Jerez for the final test days of the year.
A former podium-caliber MotoGP rider, Redding possesses the speed, skill and self-confidence required to make a run at Ducati’s first WorldSBK title since Carlos Checa accomplished the feat in 2011.
“I’ve got quite a lot of confidence behind me because of winning the British Superbike Championship; but to go to the first test and to be second the first day, then closing the gap to where I was the fastest on the second day was excellent,” he says. “It was only the fast guys from the series there, so I knew we had done well.
“Winning this year’s British Superbike Championship was really good. It was just part of my plan, you know? I did what I needed to do to prove myself and now I’ve got this factory ride in World Superbikes and obviously want to win that title, too. So to get on this new bike and perform like we have, that’s right where I need to be at this moment.”
“I was quite intrigued to see how I would fare against (new teammate Chaz Davies and WSBK big guns like Jonathan Rea and Michael van der Mark),” he adds. “To be honest, I know I can beat them. I don’t want to sound too big headed, but I know I can beat those guys. I wouldn’t have taken this challenge if I thought I couldn’t win.
“It’s not going to be easy by a long shot because you have Jonathan Rea, a five-time world champion with the same bike and same team he started with. I feel like I can challenge those guys, so being with them on track, riding with them in the same conditions, and seeing that I’m actually on their level was pretty good for me.
Between MotoGP, British Superbike and now World Superbike, Redding has built an impressive resume.
“The biggest things I took from MotoGP are actually my race knowledge and my racecraft,” he explains. “My experience of working with electronics has been helpful quite a bit, too. I had a few years in MotoGP and when I look back now, I was always trying to learn every day, and that is helping me now.
“I don’t do it to be famous. It’s my job — I’m risking my life but, bottom line, I have a passion for winning. I was in MotoGP and finishing 16th or 17th, and I’m not interested in that. I would rather ride for a lot less money and fight to win than earn a lot of money and get no results. That’s the way I tick. I don’t really enjoy riding for the sake of it; I enjoy being successful and that’s what I work my ass off to do. I work to get results.
“When I was in MotoGP, every year the candle was burning a little lower and the last year it was like, ‘OK, I’m done. I need to start winning again. I need to have the right bike and team to do it.’ Now I’ve got that in World Superbike, and I’ve shown already from the beginning that I do have some potential.
Ducati hasn’t won a World Superbike title in a decade. Does Redding feel he can be the guy to bring the big trophy back to Italy?
“Yeah, of course. I’ve challenged for championships in the past and nothing’s changed. Give me the good machinery and I will show you that I can make results. I do believe that I’m still that guy and I’m confident I can do the business. People have just seen the start of me.
“I want to be the guy to deliver Ducati a title. It would mean a lot to me and to them. Like I said, if I didn’t think that I had a chance to do it, then I wouldn’t really entertain it. The Ducati is one of the best bikes on the grid. (Alvaro) Bautista won 16 races on the bike last year. They could have done a couple of things differently to win that title quite comfortably last year, but it is what it is and it ain’t what it ain’t. I’ve got that opportunity now, and I want to do everything I can to be ready to fight for it. It’s not going to be easy, but I do know I have a good chance to do it. I really feel like Ducati believes in me and that I can win.”
Many Superbike watchers see Redding as a throwback to the likes of Scott Russell, Carl Fogarty and Colin Edwards. He agrees with them.
“Yeah, I’ve got mad character,” he admits. “In MotoGP it was probably frowned upon a little bit, but in British Superbike they just let me go and do what I wanted to do and it really brought energy to the series. The fans loved it. The other riders loved it. The team loved it.
“We shouldn’t be robots being told what we can and cannot say. We should be straight-talking and we should be honest and we should have fun. I really want to take that with me to World Superbike. I believe that’s what they want, too — riders that are fast and entertain on the track and off the track.
“At the end of the day, I know I’m an entertainer. But you can’t fulfill that when you’re being told what to do. I’ve got a lot of character and a lot of friends with a lot of character so we bounce off each other. I work hard in the week and I go racing on the weekend and I enjoy it to the best that I can.”