Forget the R7 Cup for a moment, do you remember the R6 Cup? Of course you do. It’s one of the most famous one-make series ever to grace a BSB paddock. And one of the most successful. Particularly if you’re to count the subsequent success of its alumni, who have gone on to win British championships, world championships, TTs and even MotoGP races. If you can’t remember it, let me remind you what it was all about. It was a bunch of kids (18 – 25 year olds) on Standard Yamaha YZF-R6s, on bog-stock road tyres, racing for the chance to win a BSB contract with Rob McElnea’s Virgin Yamaha Superbike team.
Not only was it great to watch, it developed and demonstrated the talents of plenty of up-and-coming riders. That was until it was canned at the end of 2007. And despite a handful of good one-make series in the meantime, the success of the R6 Cup has never been repeated. There was even an R1 Cup, that ran for a few years, but it never took off in the same way. So maybe the time has come to reintroduce the Yamaha one-make series, with the all-new (well mostly new) Yamaha R7. An affordable one-make series with a sensible prize at the end of it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a superbike contract. It could be a superstock or a supersport bike. Or a sponsorship package. It just needs to be something that will attract the best riders to the grid.
And as it happens, I’m not the first person to think of this. It was announced yesterday that, not only will there be R7 Cup championships dotted across Europe, there will be a ‘SuperFinale’ event at the end of the year. The SuperFinale will feature the top 36 riders from the national Yamaha R7 Cups across Europe, and is bound to have a decent prize fund.
But with no R7 Cup announced for the UK, it doesn’t sound as though there will be many British lads (or lasses) in the running for it. Which is a crying shame. Because there is the talent in this country, but I can’t help thinking that it isn’t getting nurtured in the same way as it is in the rest of Europe (particularly Spain and Italy).
I don’t know the formula for a mega successful one-make series. If it’s youth, close racing and a big prize then the British Talent Cup ought to fit the bill. In it, riders between the age of 12 and 17 compete on “identical” Honda NSR250Rs. All for a chance to win a place in the FIM Moto3 Junior World Championship. The fact that Dorna pulled the plug on the grand prize last week, has meant championship winner Casey O’Gorman has been demoted to the Red Bull Rookies cup for 2022. It’ll have also, no doubt, dented the integrity of the championship.
Anyway, that’s another story. I really think something needs to be done because the traditional Supersport class is dying a death. And the jump from ‘kid’s bikes’ to a superstock or superbike is too big. We’re never going to see another R6 Cup, but an R7 Cup could be incredible. And it’d be a perfect way to plug the gap.
Will we see an R7 Cup in the UK though? If I’m being honest, I highly doubt it. We’ve already got enough one-make series in the UK, including the Ducati TriOptions Cup, which has been around for a good few years now. And although it’s not really a hive of up-and-coming talent, like the R6 Cup was (rather a retirement home for ex-superstars and wealthy wannabes), there’s usually some decent racing in there. And there is, undeniably some talent.
But once again, we find ourselves looking at a MotoGP grid, bereft of any British blood. And is it any wonder?