MOTORBIKES: Carrick’s Scott Swann keeps his Grand Prix hopes alive

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From the first time Carrickfergus teenager Scott Swann threw his leg over a motorbike his dream was to be a professional Grand Prix motorcycle racer.

Two days before the Octo British Grand Prix got underway 14-year-old Scott took his first step to realising his dream when he was picked out of nearly one hundred hopefuls to join the 22 iders that will compete in the televised British Talent Cup series in 2018.

“It’s just brilliant to be part of the biggest thing to hit British motorbike racing in years and I have to thank everyone who has made it possible. I’m so excited to have been picked I don’t know what to say. This is the first step towards my dream of becoming a Grand Prix rider and I can’t wait for it to get going. It was a busy day that started at 9am and ran on until 5pm in which we had five sessions on track riding the British Talent 250 production Honda’s. I kept pushing in every session and my lap times kept coming down. I tried my best as always and remembered what my dad told me before it all started. Go as fast as you can and keep smiling. I haven’t stopped smiling since my name was announced at the end of Wednesday’s trials. It hasn’t really sunk in yet that next year I will be in the same paddock as Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez as we are provisionally down to race two Grand Prix’s at Silverstone and Valencia along with the Donington World Superbike round and three BSB rounds. Fantastic!” Said Scott.

He joins three other Irish riders Rhys Irwin, Sam Laffins and Jonny Campbell who will compete in the six round series.

One of the British Talent Scouts on the day was Glengormley ex Grand Prix rider Jeremy McWilliams. He commented afterwards. “It’s been a hectic day, and it’s stressful for us and the kids! The kids ride on the limit to impress but it’s a process that brings out the best, as we found out today. It’s the start of an incredible journey for the riders who have been selected - and maybe even for some of the reserve riders. We would love to fit more in but we’re limited on space. This is where it begins for all these riders, to hopefully becoming professional motorcycle racers - and approaching it a professional manner. Racing has been fun for them, and now they’re stepping into a bigger arena. I’m looking forward to seeing them progress and helping them in any way I can, as is everyone involved.”

Meanwhile, Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso now leads the MotoGP World Championship after taking a sensational race win at Octo British Grand Prix at Silverstone in front of a sunbaked record crowd. The 20 lap race was one of the best ever seen around the 3.66 mile Northampton circuit. Crowd favourite Valentino Rossi had them on their feet cheering as he led the pack off the start on the Movistar Yamaha. The ‘Doctor’ opened out a slight gap as the race progressed with the chasing pack of Marc Marquez, Maverick Vinales, Dovizioso and British star Cal Crutchlow seemingly having no answer to the nine-time world champion. With seven laps to go pole setter Marquez who was the first ever rider to lap Silverstone in under two minutes, was on the move in third closing the gap to second and looking odds on to make his move to the front when the Repsol Honda’s engine blew and he disappeared in a cloud of white smoke into retirement leaving Rossi still in front but now with Dovizioso edging closer. On lap 18 the Ducati rider used the power of the Italian machine to pass Rossi’s Yamaha and take the lead. The Italian racing legends problems weren’t over as team-mate Vinales moved into second on the next lap leaving Rossi’s dreams of another British GP victory in tatters. Over the closing laps Vinales, on the soft Michelin tyres closed within striking distance of the race leader but it was too little too late for the Spaniard and in the end Dovizioso was a deserving winner. Rossi held third with LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow fourth and Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo fifth. French rider Johann Zarco on the Tech3 Yamaha completed the top six. At the end of the race there was a crowd invasion as thousands of race fans made their way to the podium celebrations to cheer on their hero’s.

In the Moto2 race it was Franco Morbidelli and Marc VDS Kalex team-mate Alex Marquez who set the pace until Marquez slid out of the lead at the ‘Loop’ on lap eleven, leaving Morbidelli in the lead. On the next lap Japanese rider Takaaki Nakagami hit the front and went on to win on the Idemitsu Honda from Mattia Pasini with Morbidelli having to settle for third. It was a great win for the Japanese rider as he celebrated his move into MotoGP in 2018.

In the Moto3 class it was another breath taking twenty rider freight train race for the lead with Aron Canet taking the victory from Enea Bastianini and Jorge Martin after the race was red flagged with a lap to go after Juanfran Guevara crashed at Brooklands. British Talent Team rider John McPhee finished a disappointing 13th.

At the end of the day it was one of the best British Grand Prixs for many years. It had everything, brilliant racing in every class, great weather and a record crowd to boot. It doesn’t get any better.