SUPERMOTO: Sky’s the limit for rising star Stafford

Silver lining: Ben Stafford collects his award from David Dearden of the ACU. Photo supplied
Silver lining: Ben Stafford collects his award from David Dearden of the ACU. Photo supplied
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TEEN supermoto sensation Ben Stafford has landed himself a ride in the 2012 European Championship series.

The Saracen’s Head ace, who retained his 250cc British Supermoto title last season with an imperious 75-point cushion, has been signed up by the Skyzone racing team.

Stafford will enjoy a whistle-stop tour of the continent to take on the world’s top riders over six rounds in Italy, Sicily, Bulgaria, Croatia, Switzerland and France after being approached at the end of last season.

It caps a sensational year for the 15-year-old ace, who clinched back-to-back British titles at his ‘home’ track of Cadwell Park last November.

Stafford also finished eighth out of 30 riders in the Open Elite section of the British Championshop – a commendable performance given he was riding his 250cc KTM against 650cc machines.

After collecting his title at the ACU Annual Dinner at the Park Inn Hotel in Northampton, the hi-octane teen confirmed he will also compete in the British Championship when not on European duty next season.

And although his dad (and indeed mechanic) Andy Stafford admits he and his family are apprehensive about about their son’s gruelling schedule, they felt the exciting opportunity was too good to miss.

Andy said: “I am hugely proud of Ben’s achievements, especially as he’s come from a small family team with some very loyal sponsors.

“It takes 20 hours to prepare the bike between races and everyone needs to be dedicated to make it work, but we hold the record for having no breakdowns thanks to meticulous preparation.

“Although the initial plan was to ride the 350cc machine this season most people can’t wait to see him perform on the 450cc and on a level playing field, instead of being some 200cc down.

“I know for a fact that Ben will rise to this challenge and to be honest he really deserves this fantastic chance of rubbing shoulders with the best in the world.

“Ben has been training harder than I have ever seen him train and he is keen to deliver result again this year. Juggling GCSE exams and rushing to the airport will be a difficult balance, but we have to do it.”

Due to development costs and a limited budget, the original plans to construct a new 350cc bike for the 2012 season have been thwarted by development costs.

But Skyzone Racing, who are headed up by team principle Leigh Field at their Eastbourne base, have built a 450cc machine that should be more than capable of putting Stafford in the position to compete.

He’ll be at home on the powerful ride, having finished last season aboard a 450cc KTM – which was supplied by Cumbria based D3 Motorsport.

Stafford completes the team line-up alongside Richard Blakeman and current British Elite champion Chris Hodgson, which should prove a formidable unit.

Skyzone have already made it clear that they are very excited to have this young ace on board and are pleased to welcome him to the team.

With the family now competing on the big stage, costs are going to be hard to meet.

Anyone interested in helping with sponsorship for the 2012 season can do so by contacting Andy Stafford via email at taffstafford@btinternet.com or by calling 07801 049296.