Ben Burke Interview

Author: Mat Cox

Author: Mat Cox


While attending the penultimate round of the British Superbikes Championship with my good old friend and Superstock 600 rider Ben Burke, I managed to take some time out with him to get his opinion on racing in the UK.

Ben grew up on a farm in Spring Terrace, just near Orange in NSW, racing national level motocross in the junior ranks before making the change from dirt to tar.

Ben was always, and still is, one of the nicest guys at the track. A very cheerful boy, who has all the time in the day to stop for a chat with any one.

Travelling around the UK in Dorothy his motorhome with his longtime girlfriend Natalie, Ben is really loving his new lifestyle and even though his family is back in Australia, they are behind him one hundred percent and always checking in on him throughout his day.

Fullnoise: You grew up racing motocross then when you turned sixteen you moved into the road racing disciple, how did that all come about?

Ben: It's something that I have always wanted to do, my father had ridden road bikes when he was younger and I just had an interest in it so when I turned sixteen, I was over injuring myself on a dirt bike, felt that I needed a change so I thought I'd try road bikes and it sort of progressed from there.
Ben about to hit the track
Fullnoise: How did your road racing begin in Australia?

Ben: I started off just racing club days and then moved through to the national series. Before I made the move to England, I was racing the Australian Supersport Championship and now here I am racing the Superstock 600 class in the UK.

Fullnoise: How was your final year in Australia?

Ben: Last year I placed sixth, I was really looking for a good year and I was running fourth after the third round. Then I broke my collar bone testing which put me on the back foot and took me a little bit to get over but once I was back to full fitness I was getting good results.

Fullnoise: How did your deal come about with the Seton tuning team?

Ben: I have a mate (Adam Gilmore) who is a mechanic for the factory Kawasaki team and he said to me late last year that I should come over for a ride. I said no at first as it was bad timing as I had just started a new job, then I thought well I am still living at home and I don't owe any money, so what better time than now. So he found a good team that was going to look after me, it just went from there and I signed with Seton Tuning. It's been a fantastic year with them.

Fullnoise: Did you get much pre-season testing with Seton Tuning?

Ben: It's unbelievable the amount of bike time you get in this country. As soon as I landed I flew straight to Spain and did three days continuous testing at a track called Cartegena and then came back to the UK and tested two or three tracks before the first round.

Fullnoise: Seton tuning is a pretty much a privateer team, how is the organization?

Ben: We have a very structured team, we have a mechanic for each bike and a team manager. He runs a really good team, everything is on a checklist, so there's no bad interpretation or things getting forgotten. He ensures everything is spot on and it is a really professional team.

Fullnoise: You won your first race here in the UK, how did that feel?

Ben: It was an unbelievable feeling, I came across here not having any expectations of myself, not knowing how I was going to go. I did a bit of testing at Brands Hatch Indy circuit before the first round and thought that I might do ok, then straight out of qualifying I put it on position two on the grid.

So I was like wow I can't believe this has happened but the times were so tight I still didn't know if I was going to go alright but in the race I just sort of followed the top two guys and was feeling pretty comfortable then set a lap record and came through to win the race. It was just an unbelievable feeling that was so unexpected, I couldn't believe it had actually happened. It was great that my family was there for the first round as well and it could not have been more of a fairytale thing to happen.

Fullnoise: You proved that was no fluke with a podium finish the week after!

Ben: Yes I did, I came third at Alton Park. It was a little bit different, I struggled with that track as I had only rode there once in the rain before and there was a few riders who fell off and I worked my way through the field up to third. So that was good I was pretty high on life at the time after two podium results thinking that this could be a really good year!

Fullnoise: Things didn't go so well after that, what happened?

Ben: Well it was where I went to tracks that I hadn't been to before and at the third round I was struggling a little bit. I was about twelfth at the time then went out in qualifying and high sided myself giving myself a pretty big injury. My leg got a hematoma and just blew up like a balloon so that weekend I struggled and reality set in a little bit that I hadn't been to these tracks so I just couldn't push as hard as what I wanted to.

So I had to change my style a little bit after that and have a little bit of a re think, slow myself down and just make sure I learnt the track and then progressed through. That's what I have done for the rest of the year. I have struggled a bit in qualifying with track knowledge as I haven't rode on any of these tracks before. I have been in the top twenty in qualifying but have worked through to the top ten with the pace of the leaders in the race. I am starting so far back in the grid I am ruling myself out of being able to win it because it's just too far to come.

Fullnoise: How does it compare to racing in Australia?

Ben:The thing here is there is so many people, like back in Australia if you're winning you can be knocking on the door to win anywhere in the world but it's usually only the first three or four guys who can win it. As over here there's such a tight class with so many people it could be one of the first fifteen people who could possibly win it. With sixty people qualifying for a race it's just so many unknowns.

Fullnoise: Do you like the English lifestyle?

Ben: I thought I might struggle after coming from a farm, where I could ride dirt bikes on the weekend, to living in a city but it's been ok because it's the first year I have really ever been able to concentrate on just my racing and that's all. In the afternoons I go training with my team mate and all I do is just live, breathe and dream motorcycles. I couldn't have prepared myself any better for this year. For the results that I have got, it's been as good as I could do from putting my whole heart into it so it's been worth doing.

Fullnoise: What are your plans for next year?

Ben:In the next couple of weeks hopefully I will be resigning a twelve month deal with Phil from Seton Tuning and be back over here in the Superstock 600 class.

Fullnoise: Well congratulations on your first year in the British Superbikes Championship and good luck for the last round.

Ben:Thank you very much, hopefully next year I will be able to step it up once more with some track knowledge and hopefully be able to win my class.

Main Photo: Ben signing autographs
Ben scoping out lines before qualifying

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