Exclusive! At home with MotoGP’s Scott Redding - watch the first behind-the-scenes episode above or by clicking here!
Tap the quickshifter down two gears; bam, bam. Release the front brake, tip into a hairpin left. The late afternoon sun creates an extra shadow other than mine on the go-kart circuit near Barcelona. It’s disconcerting. Not the shadow per se, but knowing that British MotoGP star Scott Redding is on my tail.
How much does he trust me? Well, for starters I’m riding his rather trick Husqvarna 450 supermoto bike but how close is he? The shadows dance around for the split second that he’s behind me. Do I deliberately leave enough room for him to skip by, gesticulate or just carry on? The last thing I want to do is cut him up or worse still, knock him off! Is he toying with me? Is he just watching my style (what style?!) ready to offer advice? I should be concentrating on what I’m doing. Squeeze the throttle, click up a gear…and then almost faster than I can blink, Redding’s past and gone. He lays down a long trail of rubber as he slides around the next long right like some kind of calling card.
Here is an outrageously talented 22-year old, who makes his living at the very highest level of motorcycle racing, handling another of his race-prepped supermoto’s with as much ease as brushing his teeth. This is just part of a regular days’ training for the Estrella Galicia 0,0 MarcVDS rider as he prepares for the 2015 MotoGP season and his step-up to a factory Honda RC213V.
Redding and his girlfriend Penny offered Bike Social exclusive access to spend the day with them. We found out: why they play ping-pong with frying pans; how John McGuinness’s cleanliness inspires them, why Monday’s are the best days for his diet, as well as witnessing reggae dancing in Crocs, lairy forty-foot motocross jumps, and find out why Redding will quit at the end of next season if he can’t do it in MotoGP!
This is Scott Redding as you’ve never seen him before.
A NEW HOME
The couple live in a typically Spanish-looking, two-story house a 30 minute drive along the coast from Barcelona and can call fellow riders Jack Miller and Jules Danilo as neighbours. The main entrance is on the 1st floor, accessed by a set of concrete steps that disappear up the centre of the house adjacent to the garage. There seems to be too many rooms for the space, with curiously-positioned walls and low light switches adding to the quirkiness. None of which have passed the happy couple by, but they’re pretty chilled about it.
They only moved into their rented pad at the beginning of January so have yet to add their personal touch but even so, there are barely any clues that show he is one of the most talented motorcycle racers on the planet. Keith Lemon and his ‘Through The Keyhole’ brigade would not have any joy here.
On the walls among the many paintings of fruit (I’m reliably informed there are a total 24 apples) is the only giveaway; a cheap-and-cheerful wall calendar Blu-tacked to the wall of the improvised home gym displaying each race and test date.
Scott meets us dressed in a pair of Crocs. This fashion faux pas requires an immediate explanation. He lost his shoes after a post-race celebratory night out in a foreign land a few years back apparently. A hotel employee was persuaded to offer up his footwear and, as we later learnt, Redding is a man who likes to look after the pennies (and Penny), so the Crocs live on as his garage-wear.
It’s not only the plastic footwear that prevents Redding from adorning the cover of Vogue magazine. The 2013 Moto2 World Championship runner-up is also keen to show us his favourite indoor activity trousers; harem-style slacks covered with images of Bob Marley. They match the choice of background music and within five minutes of arriving we’ve already had quite an insight into the world of Scott Redding away from the paddock. He’s an individual. A confident character with his own ideas that could well be reflective of the solo-nature of his profession. When he’s on track he’s by himself. His input alone will directly affect the result.
The 2015 season is almost upon us and Redding’s pre-season suffered disruption before Christmas at the Superprestigio - an annual post-season dirt-track event for an array of talented two-wheeled racers
including Marc Marquez, Brad Baker and Guy Martin. A testing accident resulted in a broken sternum (the bone that connects ribs to collar bone), not that the Gloucestershire-man immediately recognised the injury as a break. He was more concerned about having his left boot reinforced ready for the next practice day.
“I’ve never done much dirt-track before until Superprestigio. When I pulled the bike out of the van, it wasabout a foot higher than everyone else’s! They were all in full factory kit with full factory bikes and had full factory mechanics.”
“So I did a bit of riding and I was pretty sh*t. Well, everyone else had done it loads so it made me look worse. I missed the first day but did so much practice on the next day that I went through my boot.”
The injury meant Redding missed a lot of training time, particularly on a bike and that was frustrating. The recovery process involved many hours in front of his Xbox playing Call of Duty, something which a usually very active man is not used to. “I think Penny was frustrated with me but I kept getting stabbed by an invisible man so I had to play again to work out what was going on!”
FEEDING A MOTOGP STAR
Penny is very much the chef in the household. Redding talks a good meal, claiming Spanish-style scrambled eggs as his speciality but despite his efforts he just gets under his partner’s feet. Even so, he’s still keen to not only show us but demonstrate his favourite kitchen utensil; a melon cutter.
“Normally, as you can tell, she’s getting annoyed that I’m here asking questions. Normally I’m down in the garage prepping the bikes and then I get a shout down that it’s ready.” Is that the secret to a happy relationship? “Penny’s in the kitchen and I’m in the garage; I think that’s a good combination”
Penny cracks on with a home-made, melon-free, Thai Green Chicken Curry. “There’s no cream in this or anything we eat”, she explains.
In the fridge we find plenty of chicken, eggs, melon, banana juice, fish strawberries and an unusual Valentine’s gift; asparagus. No frozen food.
“Before a race weekend I tend to carb-load from about Wednesday. I keep within the guidelines; no carbs in the evening, more protein-based like salmon or steak but keeping it quite light. Then on Sunday night and Monday that’s the best day of my life because then it’s McDonald’s and all the bad things!”
“At the race, team chefs prepare whatever I like such as chicken but then if I’m craving sugar and want a Mars bar then I’ll have it. After all, a happy rider’s a fast rider!”
As Penny cooks, a very relaxed Redding escapes to his ‘man cave’ - home to eight bikes from five manufacturers with a further Aprilia 125cc scooter sitting outside. It’s a tight fit but equally clean, neat and tidy; not adjectives usually associated with a 22 year old man’s garage.
Redding explains: “How do you expect to win a Championship if you can’t clean your house or garage? John McGuinness said that in that TT film that he cleans the house and I believe him.”
Other than a hyper-lightweight Storck bicycle, what’s in here?
Race suits, gloves, boots and a selection of helmets for all occasions sit on a purpose-built rack on one side while the motocross, supermoto and dirt track bikes sit parallel to each other on the other in order of preference we’re told.
Redding was out on his KTM the previous day and the sand-filled air filters required cleaning. A quick bit of maintenance has been reserved for our camera ahead of tomorrow’s activities.
We’re quickly learning about his temperament. He comes across as being in control, stress-free and comfortable with his surroundings. He’s meticulous with the process of cleaning, general maintenance and putting the bike back together, a sign of the high standards expected of him, his team and everyone involved in the MotoGP paddock. If you watch on TV or have been fortunate enough to be in pit lane ever, you can’t help but notice the cleanliness of it all. This is certainly the case at Chez Redding.
MAKE OR BREAK
The 2015 season will be his first on a two-year lease deal riding an RC213V from Honda, an almost identical bike that has provided back-to-back World Championships for Marc Marquez, but is it really make-or-break time already?
“This year is the one opportunity that you always wait to get and I’ve got it for two years so if I can’t make it with a factory Honda with one of the best teams out there then forget it, I can’t make it. I’ll have to do something else. My true plan and goal is to fight towards the front especially in the second year where I have to get the results, this year is kind of a learning year but I have to impress.”
Redding had his first taste of his new bike at the post-season Valencia test back in November but spent time at the more recent Malaysia tests getting to know it: “For me it was all about learning; studying Marquez’s data. Day 1, we made no changes to any suspension or anything. It was just tyres, fuel, ride, tyre, fuel, ride. That’s all we did. On the second day we changed a few clicks on the spring then the same thing. Then the last day we did a little bit of electronics work. At the second test we started changing the head angles and things like that. Others were using the soft tyre to get a lap time and they were worth 7/10th’s but we weren’t so interested in that.”
As his injury recuperated, he began to get back into his preferred training regime, “I prefer off-road to on-road, it’s more exciting. For enjoyment I’d rather be doing motocross, dirt track and supermoto.”
TRAINING. NO SERIOUSLY, IT IS.
By 9am Redding’s already been for a run, a cycle, eaten protein pancakes and loaded his motorhome with a motocross bike, a supermoto bike and Penny’s pit bike. I struggle to keep up as he buzzes around.
“One of my favourite tracks around here is about an hours’ drive away. We’ll throw down one or two moto’s and head back,” he explains.
A ‘moto’? In motocross speak, one moto is the description of a race, usually lasting for 30 minutes plus two laps.
Arriving at a deserted motocross track and there’s no hanging about. Other than saying thanks to the owner for letting him use the facilities, Redding’s unloaded the van, changed in his motocross gear, warmed the bike and he’s off.
Twenty minutes later he’s back, sweaty but happy; “It was good out there, I really enjoy this track. It’s a bit dry today; I chopped a few knobbles off the rear tyre last time out so I’m struggling to get the grip when I come out of the corners. I have to wait for it to load to give me the launch on the jumps. Even though its slick like that, it’s still good for the control and spinning and understanding the feel for the bike.”
I had no concept of the demands of the sport. I’m corrected; “Motocross for me is one of the most physical motorsports out there. If you can do 20-30 minutes motocross, pushing, then there’s no reason why you can’t do a MotoGP race. But for me it’s also about enjoying it, enjoying your training instead of slogging all the time, it’s good to get out and free your mind.”
MX TO SUPERMOTO
Much closer to home is the go-kart circuit and with the same ferocity Redding’s out of the van, unloaded once more and hooked his tyre warmers up to the mains supply. It’s supermoto time and Penny has also donned her bespoke Alpinestars leathers and is chomping at the bit to show us what she’s learned from her boyfriend, the youngest ever winner of a world championship Grand Prix race. She doesn’t disappoint. Despite a slipping 2nd gear she’s still flying around scraping her knee sliders.
Redding meanwhile is giving me a proper lesson. Kind enough to loan me the bike he only acquired from his visiting uncle that afternoon, I plod around thinking I’m alright at supermoto only to get chewed up and spat out, proverbially: “I use the road style because I’m not keen on putting my leg out so if I get a bit of front end chatter I can hold the bike on my knee. Kind of what I’m used to!”, he says before comparing my style to that of Mick Doohan’s, all super hang-off. I take it as a compliment.
“The bike feels a lot stiffer, slower and heavier than a motocross bike but it’s the first time I’ve ridden it since converting it from dirt-track so I need to play with the suspension a bit.”
He’s spent the last seven years offering precise and accurate feedback to his race engineers after each practice, qualifying and race that you trust his judgment and know full well that once that bike is cleaned and returned to the man cave, Redding will be the one tinkering until it’s just right. He may come across as laid back and chilled but he is a very precise and accurate man who craves perfection. That translates into his day job as the search for the next tenth of a second.
The language doesn’t seem to be an issue and you could argue why wouldn’t you want to live in Spain where you’re within a 6-hour drive from five of the rounds and the sun shines a lot?
“I chose Spain because it’s so free I can train when I want and the weather is so much better. If I want to do some motocross in the UK then it’s expensive to hire a track and it’s controlled in sessions, and then the weather is wet or cold. But here I can turn up at a track and they give me the keys and tell me to lock up when I m finished!”
“It’s good to have the best of both worlds, I’ve got a three minute jog to the beach or if I want to cycle in the mountains I just go the other way.”
“Spain takes a bit of getting used to, especially the timings. On a Sunday, nothing is open. If you’ve got no milk on Sunday morning then you’ve got no milk until Monday morning.”
Penny’s learning the lingo in school and relays it back to Scott because he ‘hasn’t got the patience to sit in a classroom’, yet she’s not settled as quickly as her other half who has many years of experience of being away from home.
She said: “I think I struggled more than Scott, I miss my friends and family quite a lot. It’s hard to say because I’ve only been here for such a short period of time but I prefer it now that I’m going to school and I’ve met a couple of people too. We’ll be going away soon so it’ll be all change again then. When we first moved to Spain we dressed in t-shirt and shorts, even in January because it’s so much warmer than the UK. When I went to Spanish class the other day they thought it was hilarious that I was just in a cardigan and skirt. They can tell we’re English because they’re still all in hats and gloves!”
BRITISH GP AT PEMBREY
“I’m not fussy if the British round is at Silverstone, Donington or Pembrey - we have to race it. I’ve got a bit of history with Silverstone and Donington but Silverstone for me is a nicer track; fast, flowing, it’s a man’s track. I think a lot of the riders like the track for those reasons.”
SHINY HELMET DESIGN
“I’m thinking to have something similar to the testing helmet. I didn’t think I’d like the gold but the designer said ‘trust me’. We’ll have a similar design but with matt black with the star and the union flag but it might be too busy. I like to keep it simple. I designed the old ones which were mainly black but when we were testing they couldn’t see me coming so I put the star and flag on. I don’t let that kind of stuff stress me out…so long as it looks shiny!”
Redding has given some cunning thought to the two most common questions he is asked by reporters, so if you read an interview where he’s given these answers, remember you heard them here first!
THE KEY TO HAPPINESS?
“The important things I want from life are my own gym, my own motocross track, my own dirt track and a double garage! Then I’ll be happy.”
*Huge thanks to Scott, Penny, Daryl, Paul and Shelby*
Take a look at the official Scott Redding merchandise by clicking here