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Ryde to defend title as sponsor steps in

Kyle Ryde will defend his number one plate in the newly combined 125cc and Moto3 championship, after two sponsors stepped in to save the reigning British 125cc champion’s season.

By Layla Williams

Kyle Ryde will make it to the grid on Easter weekend to defend his number one plate in the newly combined 125cc and Moto3 championship, after two sponsors stepped in to save the reigning British 125cc champion's season.

Original plans would have seen him racing a Moto3 in the Spanish Championship and competing in selected BSB rounds alongside his Red Bull Rookie duties, but persistent funding issues ended those hopes.

The last rider you would expect to be struggling to find a seat would be Britain's youngest ever road racing champion, at the age of 14 years and 3 months, who clinched the title despite missing an entire round and starting at the back of the grid twice, due to his Red Bull Rookie commitments (pictured).

However that was the position Ryde found himself in after a major sponsor pulled out.

In the current economic climate all riders are struggling to find funds, but Janine Ryde - Kyle's mother - was still surprised at the struggles they've had.

"With people making comparisons to Casey Stoner we were surprised when no offers for a ride or sponsors came for 2012, only small previous sponsors stayed with us. When people were saying he was going to be a future world champion we were a bit taken aback when no one came forward to help make it happen."

Ryde will now race in the British Championship full time for 2012 and again compete in the Red Bull Rookies Cup. The full identity of the team and sponsors will be revealed in a press release over the coming weeks.

The past week has started to pull together concrete plans for this season with the help of the new sponsors, but it will involve starting the year on a borrowed 125cc bike before moving onto the new Moto3 machine at Oulton Park at the earliest.

Janine explained: "Unfortunately we just could not find the funds [for the Spanish Moto3 ride] which is a real shame for Kyle because he competed at the last rounds in November where he did fantastic finishing in 12th and sixth, but we are only just finishing to pay for it now. We are only just managing to get him the funds to race in the BSB series so who knows what will happen when he definitely needs to move up."

Kyle's Moto3 bike is coming from Japan and is expected at the end of March, but the spare parts are not available until after Thruxton making it impossible to race until then. As a result, 125 National Thundersport competitor Neil Durham has stepped in to run Ryde on his Moto Strada RSW Aprilia 125 until the new bike is ready.

It is not an ideal situation, but Ryde will nevertheless be on the grid ready to defend his title and potentially secure a ride with a team who can support him to move up and fulfil the potential that so many believe he has.

Racing a Moto3 bike is something Janine and Kyle's father Sean feel needs to happen for his future development. The aim is that when he turns 16 in 2013, if they can get the funds together, he can wild-card in the world championship.

But he wouldn't be on the 2012 grid at all if it wasn't for the non-stop commitment of his family, friends and local village who are all helping him to fulfil the promise of being one of Britain's brightest rising stars.

Even in the face of the obvious dangers, Janine and Sean Ryde are like any other racing parents, willing to do whatever they can to help their child accomplish as much as they are capable of.

Janine has been fully behind her son from the beginning: "Kyle started racing when he was six which was an affordable hobby at that point which let us travel and meet new people but by the time he was nine we saw his potential and moved him up to the bigger bikes and tracks.

"This was when we started to struggle to find the money and by the time he turned eleven we had run out of money to support him ourselves and that was when we began looking for sponsors to help keep him racing because we saw something special in him."

Janine supports his dream of racing but like any nervous mother she struggles to watch her son race: "The best feeling is when he crosses that finish line and the chequered flag is out; whatever position he finishes in doesn't matter to me".

With the events of last year where the racing community lost Ben Gautrey and Marco Simoncelli, Kyle's parents could be forgiven for being extra concerned, but they know these are the risks in racing.

"He is so good at what he does; it is a risk you take. After what happened last year we did discuss it and it's not nice to say but kids can get hurt playing outside, the only difference with racing is that he is heightening his chances. It's something you try to put to the back of your mind. No one wants their kids in pain so you hope each time he goes out that he comes back 100% OK."

It's not just his family that is behind Kyle, friends and their local village can see the potential in this young star and have been so supportive helping arrange fundraisers to back his racing but the family put all they have into keeping his dream alive: "The help from them has kept us going but our lives are basically on hold for now - all our money goes into racing".

Ryde's situation has highlighted that track success does not always guarantee a race seat and that it is more important than ever for fans and companies to try to support up-and-coming racers.

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