Henderson R1 Cup: Superstar in the making

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Sam Warren is a relative novice to road racing. He’s completed just a handful of club races to get his national licence, so he can take part in the Henderson Yamaha R1 Cup.

But the 25-year-old engineer from Swanwick isn’t just any old road racing novice; he’s the winner of the 2006 British Supermoto Championship.

Warren has also got more riding talent in his big toe than most of us have in our entire bodies and despite his inexperience on road racing circuits, he’s been showing blistering form in the Yamaha R1 Cup both in qualifying and in the races. 

But last weekend at Oulton Park he dusted up the great and the good to take his first Yamaha R1 Cup win, ahead of Sean Emmett, Ben Wilson, Gary Mason and John Kirkam.

Riding on wets on a drying track Warren ran in the top four for the entire race, taking the lead four laps from the end and powering to victory by 3.374 seconds over Emmett.

Owen said: “I’m over the moon; I can’t believe that I’ve done it. I need to thank Mission Racing and all my sponsors, my family and of course my mechanics.

They have all believed in me and given me the chance to come to road racing. The conditions suited my Supermoto background and played straight into my hands today.”

Speaking to Sam (who never seems to stop smiling) after the race he told me his supermoto background helped in the conditions, but he’s too modest; he’s quick wet or dry and without doubt he’s a superstar in the making.

And talking of supermoto stars, Christian Iddon qualified in third spot in the Superstock 600 race and finished a fine fifth in the race.

While Warren was making it look easy at the front of the grid, I was at the other end showing how hard it actually is, but making progress.

With just one wet free practice and a dry qualifying session to get used to the bike and circuit I lined up on the grid in the drizzle back in 17th. 

A few laps in, still on a wet track I managed to catch up with the Shannon Etheridge and Brendan Clarke who’ve come to do the Yamaha R1 Cup all the way from Australia, but as the track dried their pace was too much for me, but I’d managed to climb up to 13th place.

The race seemed to go on forever with the conditions as they were. My wets were shot as the rain stopped and a dry line appeared on the track; spinning, bucking and weaving everywhere.

It’s like I did all 12 laps holding my breath, as one mistake and you’d be down. With two laps to go, ex-Superstock Cup runner (and ex-waterskiing champ!), Rod Lynne closed me down and went ahead, but ended up going straight on at Hizzys Chicane, letting me back past.

He must have ridden the wheels off his Yamaha R1 to catch me up after losing so much time getting out of the chicane, but just missed out by less than a tenth of a second at the line.

For the first time in my life I’m happy to get three points…for my 13th place. Getting in the points in the Yamaha R1 Cup was always going to be hard, so I’m chuffed to bits and I’m now looking forward to getting to some tracks I know.

The next round is a double-header at Donington next Bank Holiday 26 May, where we get to run our cancelled Brands Hatch GP race. See you there!

Oulton Park Henderson Yamaha R1 Cup race results:

1. Sam Warren
2. Sean Emmett
3. Ben Wilson
4. Gary Mason
5. John Kirkham
6. Marty Nutt
7. Jack Kennedy
8. James Cox
9. John Ingram
10. Stu Wilson
11. Brendan Clarke
12. Shannon Etheridge
13. Michael Neeves
14. Rod Lynn
15. Paul Shoesmith
16. Neal Garside
17. Kyle Kentish
DNF Robert Kennedy
DNF Charlie Bishop
DNF Adrian Coates
DNF Steven Cusack