Having endured an incident-packed 2006 season, the Somerset-based Beowulf Racing team appear to be back on track in 2007.
In their fifth continuous year of international competition the squad will field 17-year-old Gino Rea in the European Superstock 600 (ESS 600) Championship aboard a GSX-R600 K7 Suzuki.
The ESS 600 series runs as a support class at all the European rounds of the prestigious World Superbike Championship, which lists Brits Carl Fogarty, Neil Hodgson and James Toseland as former champions.
Restricted to entrants between 15-20 years of age the aim of the ESS 600 championship is to bring new blood into racing, developing world-class riders along the way. Rea might only be just over five feet tall and weigh less than eight stones, but already the Ewell teenager is tipped to have a big future in the sport of motorcycle racing.
After several seasons of competing in – and wining - junior motocross and supercross events both at home and abroad, Gino was the runner-up in the 2006 Braken KTM Cup.
But it was when riding a race-prepared 600cc sportsbike at Mallory Park at the end of the year the youngster made the racing world sit up and take notice of his talent.
With no prior experience aboard such a machine, Gino set pole position in qualifying and went on to win both races. It led to the biker's newspaper, Motorcycle News, tipping Gino as “One to Watch” in the future.
Although the 2007 ESS 600 season has yet to begin, both the rider and team have been hard at work for their attack on the series. In a warm-up test at the Spanish circuit of Cartagena, Gino lapped within eight-tenths of a second of the tracks lap record for his class, with only a limited number of race tyres being available to him.
Several riders from the British 1000cc Superstock championship were also in attendance but the teenager was by no means overawed by their presence. Despite being aboard a much less powerful machine, Gino stayed in the wheel tracks of established stars John Laverty and Kieran Clarke.
Veteran circuit commentator Fred Clarke was also present and was highly impressed by the youngster's progress. Upon his return to these shores further tests at Mallory and Donington Park have followed, with Gino again only being a whisker away from equalling lap-record times.
Both rider and Team Manager, Andy Stone, are delighted with each other’s performance so far. The 11-round 2007 European Superstock Championship kicks off at the UK circuit of Donington Park on April 1, 2007 before moving on to Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic and France.
GINO REA PROFILE:
Date of birth: 18th September 1989
Home town: Ewell, Surrey Favourite circuits: Brands Hatch, Cadwell Park, Valencia
Hobbies: Anything with two wheels
Gino Rea Race Highlights (so far!): 2000 - YMSA Supernational (65cc) - 3rd British Supercross NEC Birmingham (65cc) - 1st British Supercross Exeter WestPoint (65cc) - 3rd. 2002 - Premier Motocross Championship (85cc) - 2nd Mini Olympics USA. Top half finishes in supercross, motocross and enduro. 2003 - Future West Weston Supercross 85cc, best finish - 2nd Dutch Supercross 85cc, two rounds: best finish 2nd. 2004 - 85cc South Yorkshire Supercross Summer Series Champion. 2005 - Aprilia Superteens, missed 3 rounds - finished 10th. Spanish CEV 125cc championship – entered final two rounds. 2006 - Bracken KTM 660 Cup Championship - 2nd New Era Formula 600 race, Mallory Park - qualified on pole and won both races.
2007 EUROPEAN SUPERSTOCK 600 CHAMPIONSHIP Rd 1: April 1st - Great Britain, Donington Park Rd 2: April 15th - Spain, Valencia Rd 3: April 29th - Netherlands, Assen Rd 4: May 13th - Italy, Monza Rd 5: May 27th - Great Britain, Silverstone Rd 6: June 17th - San Marino, Misano Rd 7: July 22nd - Czech Rep, Brno Rd 8: August 5th - Great Britain, Brands Hatch Rd 9: September 9th - Germany, Eurospeedway Rd 10: September 30th - Italy, Vallelunga Rd 11: October 7th - France, Magny-Cours