It is well known that Britain has not produced a Grand Prix World Champion since Barry Sheene, who was crowned 500cc champ in 1977.
In the late 1990’s, with no sign of that changing, British fans turned their attention to World Superbike in their bid to find someone to cheer for.
In recent years the fans have returned to Grand Prix racing, despite ongoing success in World Superbike. British riders have started to get competitive machinery, and there has even been the occasional 125 podium and race win to celebrate.
In 2012 things really started to look up for British fans with Cal Crutchlow flying the flag in the premier class.
Whilst riding for the Tech 3 Yamaha team he claimed two podium finishes. The following season he improved taking four podium finishes and two pole positions.
At the same time, Scott Redding was winning races in Moto2, and narrowly lost out to Pol Espagaro in the Championship race .
Meanwhile, Danny Kent, once heralded as The Great British hope was having a nightmare debut season in Moto2 on the uncompetitive Tech 3 Mistral.
Taking stock at the end the of the season he decided to move back to Moto3 and signed for the Red Bull Husqvarna team (a re-branded KTM) for 2014. Effectively the same team he claimed two victories with in 2012.
The first half of the season did not go well as he struggled with the 2014 version of the bike. But, there was a marked improvement in the 2nd half of the season, the highlights being podium finishes in Brno and Aragon.
A move to the Leopard Racing Honda team for 2015 has completely transformed him from potential race winner to a Championship contender.
After an impressive podium in Qatar, he went on to decimate the field in Austin and Argentina winning by record breaking margins, and his victory in Jerez demonstrated that he isn’t afraid to get involved in a scrap to take the win.
In Le Mans, Kent showed that he now has the maturity to go with his speed and racecraft.
After being caught out by the rain in qualifying, Kent had to start the race from 31st on the grid. He worked his way through the field with ease, and by the latter stages of the race he was embroiled in the battle for the podium.
In the end, he elected to take a safe 4th place, rather than risk being caught up in an incident. In doing so, Kent extended his lead in the championship to 37 points.
Although there is still a long way to go in the season, with Danny Kent in this kind of form can British fans dare to dream that the drought may finally come to an end?
Photos: © 2015 Tony Goldsmith / www.tonygoldsmith.net – All Rights Reserved
Tony Goldsmith is an Isle of Man based freelance motorcycle racing photographer specialising in MotoGP and the Isle of Man TT races. His website can be found at www.tonygoldsmith.net. He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.