BSB: Richard Cooper stays with Bathams Racing for 2021 Superstock 100 season

Richard Cooper in action at Donington last year before his injury
Richard Cooper in action at Donington last year before his injury
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2019 Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Champion Richard Cooper will remain with Michael Rutter’s Bathams Racing squad this season.

Cooper is still recovering from a serious leg injury he suffered at Donington Park in the opening round of the 2020 season in August but has been told by team principal Michael Rutter that there’s a bike waiting for him once he’s back to full fitness.

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Cooper broke his right tibia and fibula in the crash and suffered a compound fracture of both bones, with a rod being inserted into his leg as a result. For the two-time Superstock 1000 champion it’s been a frustrating time, but he already has a target in mind for a return date.

“I’d like to be positive but it’s hard,” Cooper explained to MCN. “I know it’s going to take some time with the injury I suffered, and I feel I’m quite lucky to still have a leg. I think in the real world I’d be alright, but the fact I want to race motorbikes makes it a little bit different. Because of that, I feel that it’s taken a long time.

“It’s frustrating but on the other hand, I know, in my mind, it’s going to take a year and it hasn’t been a year, it’s been nine months. As the season gets closer, I hope to be better. As a racer we always set ourselves a date and looking at the calendar, perhaps that could be Brands Hatch in July when the sun is shining and all that. It’s three or four months from where we are now so that would really, in my mindset, be where I want to be.”

Cooper also told MCN that his day-to-day life is pretty much back to normal and that he’s returned to work, which involves riding a motorbike, and has been training again to some degree.

His injury at the opening round last year meant that Cooper was unable to defend his crown and was also unable to showcase his potential on the BMW S1000 RR.

“It was a real shame that I never really got to show not only Michael, but also Bathams and BMW my objective. Obviously, my objective was to win the championship like I did in 2019 for Suzuki, and to retain the championship with BMW. That was always my mindset and the fact that we never did it was quite disappointing, but I still think I’m capable and most importantly, so do those guys.

“They still have plenty of belief in me and the fact that they’re showing that and biding their time is nice because I know that, in theory, you’re only as good as your last race and unfortunately, I never finished that one. That is the damn hard truth of it. We didn’t finish the race. I was injured and unfortunately sometimes if you’re out of sight, you’re out of mind, but fortunately, with Michael and Bathams, they have been the opposite. They have really supported me.”

With Cooper unable to race for the time being, team principal Rutter will be stepping onto the bike for selected rounds. Rutter will race alongside Taylor Mackenzie, who re-joins the team after a year in the Superbike class with SYNETIQ BMW.

“I’d like to do as many as I can,” Rutter told MCN. “I’ve got nothing to hide; I jump on it, ride it and tell them, right, that’s right or that’s wrong in my opinion. It gives them something to think about as well.

“I think I can still help a lot. I still want to do it, I still enjoy doing it and I still want to do the TT, NW200 and Macau. I’ll keep trying, you know. I’m 49 in April so I’m not going to be as competitive as those young lads now, but if I can get in the top 10, that would be fantastic. On this new bike, I might even surprise myself!”

Although Cooper won’t be racing, he’ll still be helping the team out at each race weekend by offering his expertise inside the garage.

“If I can be in the garage and pass a bit of knowledge on, not that he [Taylor] needs it, look at his dad and his brother, they’ve got more knowledge than you can imagine, but if I can put a little something on the table, that would be nice. If he gets a victory and you feel you’ve helped in a certain way, it’s a victory for all of us isn’t it!”

The 2021 BSB season is due to begin at Oulton Park on the second Bank Holiday weekend in May (29-31).

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Josh Close

By Josh Close

Sports Reporter and fan of all things motorsport.