On Monday 24 February 2003, the International Media centre at Silverstone played host to an historic event in the world of motorcycle racing – the return of British manufacturer Triumph to racing after more than 30 years.
Triumph has teamed up with specialist racing company ValMoto, headed by Jack and Doris Valentine, to enter a team in to the 2003 British Supersport Championship.
Jack Valentine recognised the potential of the Triumph Daytona 600 as serious contender in the Supersport class and contacted the Hinckley based manufacturer to see if they were interested in running a race team. Triumph had no hesitation in saying yes and the Triumph ValMoto British Supersport team was born.
Racing had always played a part in Triumph’s long-term strategy. Commercial and racing manager, Ross Clifford, explained: “Since the 1990s our focus has been on manufacturing and getting a dealer network in place but it has always been part of Triumph’s strategy to venture into racing again.
“The most important thing is to run a professional team and be competitive. Now we have the right machine and everything is in place to be able to do that.”
Commenting on the competitiveness of both the race bike and the road version of the Daytona 600 Clifford added: “In terms of the road bike, the original TT 600 was said to be one of the best 600s you could buy and the new bike has been developed to be lighter and faster.
“We are working with one of the best teams in the sport to develop the race bike and we have two of the best riders in international racing in Jim Moodie and Craig Jones so we are focusing on being competitive right from the beginning.”
The entire management team at Triumph is 100 per cent committed to the racing project and with one of the most modern manufacturing facilities in the world behind them whatever resources and support the Triumph ValMoto team needs in order to succeed will be provided.
Jack Valentine is equally committed to the project and while he is optimistic about the team’s chances in 2003, he is also extremely realistic: “We are still developing the bike and everyone must understand that we have started this project from scratch and all the race parts have been developed by ValMoto.” Said Jack.
He is extremely impressed with the quality of the Triumph product and admits to having been very flattered when Triumph chose ValMoto to run its racing team.
“In the past we have worked with the latest Japanese technology and what we have seen from Triumph is equal and in most cases better than that!” He said. “To get a contract with them and be selected over all the other race teams is fantastic.”
Jack chose a combination of experience and youth when selecting his riders, he concluded: “We have worked with Jim for many years and he has lots of experience – Craig is already a national champion at the age of just 18 and I think we have chosen a really good blend that fits with both our image and Triumph’s.”
The successful relationship that he has enjoyed with Jack and Doris Valentine since 1993 was a key factor for Jim Moodie when it came to signing for Triumph ValMoto. Jim said: “I received a call from Jack after the TT saying that he was working on something that would be very good for me, for him and for British racing.
“Right from the start I told him that I was fully committed to him whatever he was working on.”
Jim is also in no doubt about the impact that the return of Triumph will have on British racing and is delighted to be part of an all British team: “It’s fantastic for Triumph to be back racing – it will generate great publicity in this country for the sport and the championship.”
His extensive experience will be invaluable to the team for the development of the Triumph Daytona 600. When asked about his strengths in this area Jim said: “Having the opportunity to ride for a lot of the major manufacturers over the last 10 years has given me a vast knowledge of what should work and what shouldn’t.
“I just hope I can pass on all this information to the team and to my team mate.”
Craig Jones is looking forward to the challenge of moving up to the Supersport class and to riding the Triumph ValMoto Daytona 600. He is undaunted by the prospect of riding in the championship for the first time and has every intention of setting out to win the title right from the beginning.