Seeing Red! The Red Circles team talk to us pre Minibike World Champs!
Wow we have been firing through the interview’s in the build up to the Minibike World Championships which takes
place this weekend (August 25th to 27th) at the Fatcats Motoparc, and this time we catch up with Alex Parnell the team boss of the Red Circles Minibike Race team…. without further ado here’s what he had to say..
Hey Alex, tell us about yourself, age, occupation, and history with Minibike racing..
I’m Alex, owner of Red Circles Motorcycles, 39 years old and started RC back in 2004.
As far as racing goes I came in quite late, we originally spoke to Jamie in early 2013 but the season had already started so it wasn’t until later that year that we started getting more involved. As we were quite new Jamie (Courtney) hooked us up with a couple riders, Tom Down and Grant Dyer and the rest as they say is history.
As the owner of the Red Circles Minibike team give us an intro to each of your riders and what class they are running in at the World Champs?
We have a strong team this year although results don’t reflect that! By far our most successful rider this year has been Lee Mitchell in the Masters class, if it weren’t for a mechanical hitch at the last round Mildenhall he could well have been leading the championship now.
Longstanding team member Dan Foreman will be moving up to the 160 class for the world champs, he’s been riding in the 140 class this season during the British champs but bad luck has dogged him all year, 4 punctures in a single weekend is one time that springs to mind. Hopefully he’ll have a little more luck next weekend.
Dans brother, Dominic Foreman and long time minibike pro Pat Crump have been riding in the pro class this year with only a minor change of Pat swapping to Masters for this event. Pat and Lee in that class should be a strong pairing, fingers crossed for some good results there.
We have the youth riders too, one being my daughter Teagan. She’s come a long way in the 2 years she’s been on a bike, a lot of #5 trophy boards this year so the plan is to keep that going. Bradley (Lee’s son) cant do every round but he loves it when he’s there, hopefully he can do the last round at Kettering and push for a trophy.
Could you give us a quickfire insight to what it takes and what you have to do to run a minibike race team?
Its tough, really tough and it takes up nearly all of my spare time really. I work from pretty much the end of one season until the beginning of the next designing kit, graphics, banners etc. There isn’t much time to sit around, always something that needs doing.
At RC we provide all bikes and engines for our sponsored riders so the maintenance is unreal.
Cost can be an issue when there are 10 odd engines to take care of, just something simple like replacing the clutch plates in them all can carry a sting.
Team dynamics can be difficult at times, there are a lot of determined riders under our gazebo and when it doesn’t go well everyone looks at you to sort it. Luckily we all get on well and everyone understands that when something goes wrong we all need to chip in with some help, it’s not a job for everyone but you do get used to it.
It all makes sense when you see your rider come in #1.
How has the Mini Bike Champs season been for you and the team so far?
I won’t lie, its been a hard season. This year has been a steep learning curve with it being the first year I have built and fixed all of the motors myself, theres a big difference between winning the expert class and winning the pro class. The guys at the top like CW and GPcube have been building motors for years so its a big ask to compete at that level, I haven’t done bad but I could certainly do better.
The World Champs is been an epic event have you and the team made any special plans and preparations?
No special preparations as such, initially there was going to be a 200cc class which has been withdrawn so that’s saved a bunch of extra work. Apart from that all the bikes are the same spec as the British Champs so just maintenance and making sure its all ready in time. We’re trying a few new things on the bikes that will hopefully help reliability but apart from that, the only difference is the time away, we will have to leave on Thursday morning and come back on Monday so no biggie.
Have you set any specific Results targets for your Riders?
Of course we are always looking at the big one in the pro class but more importantly for me personally is that the bikes are running well and the riders are happy with them.
I wouldn’t say no to a win in every class though ?
I know you have been in and around the Minibike scene since the pioneer days, how have you seen the sport change and what do you think of it the 2017 version?
From when we started in 2014 its almost unrecognisable, just 4 years has seen it grow from a hobby with people riding £500 stomps to Professional riders racing highly tuned bikes costing thousands. Don’t get me wrong though the series is so welcoming to new riders, you can still ride your stock Stomp you just aren’t going to win the pro class on it. The way its structured opens the door for all ages and abilities, perfect for newcomers and pro riders alike.
You have traveled to various Minibike events around the World, from what you have seen what rider’s do you think will be on the podium come the end of the weekend?
In the pro class? The big one is Mike Valade, the guy is unreal but not unbeatable, he’s the one to watch out for. If our engine holds up to the punishment I’d like to think our rider Dom Foreman could get top 3 but the whole class is stacked at the top so who knows.
You have been a strong supporter of the Minibike Champs crew from the start, what would you say to anyone looking to get involved as a rider or as a team?
Just turn up and watch an event, it seems from the outside that it will be hard to get into or they’re not sure what bikes to use but its so easy to talk to people at MBC. Everyone is helpful and we all want full classes so the more the merrier.
What are you most looking forward to at the World Champs?
All of it, the racing, the competition, its what we all do it for. We dont do it for financial gain, we do it because we love it. One down side is that I was hoping there would be more french riders coming over as they have a bunch of good minibike riders out there but their dates clashed and as a result we won’t get to see some of the other big names. Shame really but thats the way it goes I guess.
As a team owner you must keep you eyes on the latest talent coming through the MBC ranks, who in the Youth classes should we look out for in the World Champs and in the future?
The kids are getting sooo fast now, Taylor Hampshire came up from the youth class last year and he is absolutely flying. There are kids in the younger group that could easily win the expert A group, Senna Summers being one that springs to mind. I think a few adults will get a shock when he moves up in a couple years.
I want to thank all the people and sponsors that have helped us over the course of the season, Paul at Rapid Moto that have helped with Duck Smart, Bel-Ray Oil and Torc1 grips, Balduino Montoreri at MB Factory, Italy who have been so quick at shipping parts over when we need them. Gauthier at 2F for keeping the team looking fresh in the new kits and Steve at Bucci UK for keeping us rolling with bike spares for the past 2 years.
There are literally too many people to thank here so I’ll leave it at that.
Links to all our social media etc can be found at our website www.redcircles.co.uk and I encourage anyone who has a pit bike to get involved in this scene, you’ll be hooked, I promise.