BSB: Stapleford confirmed alongside Ray at Buildbase Suzuki

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Luke Stapleford will partner Bradley Ray in the Buildbase Suzuki squad for this year’s Bennetts British Superbike championship.

As reported by MCN earlier this month, the 2015 British Supersport Champion will return from three seasons in World Supersport to make his full-time Bennetts BSB debut.

However, it won’t be the first time Stapleford has lined-up alongside the BSB grid having ridden at Silverstone and Brands Hatch with the GBmoto Kawasaki squad after he’d wrapped up the Supersport crown in 2015.

The 27-year-old didn’t embarrass himself in his two outings, scoring solid points in two of the five races despite the steep learning curve he faced.

Stapleford enjoyed three strong years in World Supersport, despite campaigning the outdated Triumph Daytona 675 before switching to Yamaha mid-way through 2018.

Three front row starts, including a pole position and a best finish of fourth showed the youngster’s potential, but competing against factory-backed outfits as a family effort proved tough.

“I’ve got a good relationship with Steve [Hicken – team manager] and the team, and we’ve worked together before and know each other well,” Stapleford said.

“We’d talked in the past but honestly, I was still enjoying riding the 600. We talked again after last season and I was at a point where I wanted a change from what I was doing in World Supersport – I was riding in a family-run team and honestly it was a lot of effort that took the shine off racing a motorbike a little bit.

“I’d had a few offers in BSB before, after the title in 2015, but now I feel the timing and the package is right. It’s going to be hard I know that, but I think we’ll get there. We’ve not set any specific targets and we’re being realistic, but at the same time my goal is to be at the front.

“It’s going to take time to get up to speed and a lot of hard work, but that’s where we want to be and I know the team and bike can be there.

“The feeling in 2015 of winning the British Supersport title is what’s kept me going and I want the feeling of winning races, and eventually a championship again.”

Richard Cooper, who rode the team’s second Superbike last year, will move back to the Superstock 1000 championship to front Suzuki’s title challenge.  

Oli Rushby

By Oli Rushby

Former sports reporter covering British Superbikes, World Superbikes and road racing