Stacey Nesbitt, the 19-year-old wunderkind of Canadian motorcycle road racing with two national titles already under her belt, is racing in Europe this year as well as at home.
The European Junior Cup, part of Honda’s worldwide racing program, is one of a number of feeder series intended to give younger racers a forum to display their talents, hopefully with an eye to attracting sponsorship toward more senior levels of racing. There are 30 racers on the grid this year, including six women, from 15 different countries. It runs in conjunction with the World Superbike races in Europe and uses very lightly modified CBR650s.
Nesbitt already has some international racing experience, due to her participation (and championships) in the Honda CBR125 and CBR250 series in Canada, which led to some international events as far afield as Qatar, but this is the first time she’s run a complete series outside the country.
Canada Moto Guide caught up with her and her father Grant at the Shannonville RACE series event August 7 and asked how the European racing came about.
Grant Nesbitt: You know, we had nothing lined up for 2016, nothing at all. There wasn’t any money for a program and it looked like no chance of anything happening, but around Christmas … ?
Stacey Nesbitt: Just after Christmas.
Grant: Yes, we got an inquiry from the Junior Cup people asking us if we’d be interested in participating. We checked into the series and thought it was doable; still an expensive proposition, but we worked out that it wouldn’t be much more than running a full program in Canada.
Stacey: The chance of running on all those fantastic tracks in Europe was really exciting, and we decided to do it. Of course, it’s meant dad and me spending all our time on our phones looking for cheap flights and hotels!
(The way the series works is you pay a whack of money up front – 40,000 euros is the number we’ve heard – which buys you a bike delivered to each round. Basic maintenance and problem solving is mostly up to the buyer, but any obvious fault is dealt with by the series owners. At the end of season the bike is yours.)
Stacey: My CBR600 here is much faster. But the thing is that in theory, they’re identical. I’m hoping to get a lot of experience on the different tracks, and my only real goal in the series is to get closer to Avalon.
(That would be Avalon Biddle, a 24-year-old racer from New Zealand, so far the fastest of the half-dozen women racing in the series. At the first race in Spain, Stacey was about 40 seconds behind Avalon, at the second in the Netherlands, Stacey DNF’d with transmission problems, at the third in the U.K., she was again about 40 seconds behind with more shifting issues, at the fourth race in Italy, about 30 seconds behind. So she’s getting closer, although the bike seems to be plagued with frustrating transmission issues.)
Grant: Not long after we arranged to do this series, Motovan stepped up with sponsorship for this year back home, enough to do the nationals. We’ve also done a couple of the regionals – we’re here, after all – but our main issue is to try to get the bike dialed in better for the last double-header national at CTMP (Mosport) in two weeks.
CMG: Stacey’s had great results this weekend!
Stacey: Well, I’m still not really happy with the bike. Here’s hoping it’s better at CTMP to end off the season here in Canada.
(Other than that, it’s back to Europe for the next WSB/Junior cup race at the Lauszitzring in Germany, so it’s back to the phones looking for those cheap fares and hotels! After that, in October there’s France and then Spain …)
Stacey: I’ve no idea what we’ll be doing next year.
Grant: I’ve actually inquired of some World Supersport teams about a possible ride at an Irish event later this year (the family is from Ireland originally), and had some interested responses, but the up-front cost to race WSS is going to be about 160,000 euros. That’s so far out of our possibilities – but if anyone’s interested in helping, we’ll be glad to talk!