1st year student Chrissy Rouse signed a last minute contract to compete in the 2016 Pirelli National Superstock Championship. Sports Editor Calum Wilson caught up with the Maths fresher to see how he is coping with life in the fast lane
Chrissy Rouse began the calendar year as just another fresher, albeit a fresher with a hidden talent. The local Geordie student has possessed a certain knack for racing motorbikes since the age of seven and has competed in a number of tournaments in his youth, but began University life with his sights set solely on his degree.
However, just a matter of days before the start of the British Superstock 1000 season, Rouse received an offer he couldn’t refuse. One phone call, a meeting at Wetherby service station and one test drive later, Rouse was unveiled as Mission Racing’s new recruit aboard a snazzy looking BMW S1000RR.
Rouse explains, “it was a very last minute deal; I’d not planned on racing at all this year. Usually before a season you get things sorted around Christmas and that gives you the chance to do a full testing program, get used to the bike and get ready for the season. We had one dry testing on the Monday before the first round so I wasn’t really sure how the whole thing was going to pan out.”
With minimal preparation, Rouse would’ve been excused for a slow start to life on his new bike, which is just as well because that’s exactly what he got. Starting from the back of the grid at the first race meet of the season, the 20-year old stormed past most of the field to finish in a very respectable 13th.
Reflecting on the new season and the first race, Rouse said: “I did Superstock 600 last year and moving up to the 1000 series I didn’t really know what to expect. At the first race at Silverstone I messed the start up and I had to start from 43rd, but I felt really comfortable on the bike and I managed to overtake 30 people in the end.”
Full of confidence from the Silverstone success, Rouse headed to Oulton Park for race two, hoping to better his opening result. The weekend began well, with the Newcastle student qualifying in a very impressive 11th. As the heavens opened in Cheshire, Rouse gambled by choosing to race on wet tyres.
“At the first race at Silverstone I messed the start up and I had to start from 43rd, but I felt really comfortable on the bike and I managed to overtake 30 people in the end”
It proved, initially at least, to be an inspired decision as Rouse shot past the ten riders in front of him on the home straight to lead the race. In front of the gathered crowd, television cameras and, crucially, his sponsors, the young lad from Gateshead was showing off his potential.
“Leading the second race was a big thing,” Rouse describes. “I had a lot of my family and the sponsors down there, so for them to see their name on TV was really important. Being right at the front is a really good feeling, although once I’d seen how dry the track was I knew it wouldn’t last the whole race, but it was nice to have that five minutes of fame at the start of the race.”
Rouse went on to finish the race 13th, equalling his first race result. Despite having been at the front, the Maths fresher was satisfied with his start to the season. “Me and the other lad who were on the wet tyres just went backwards, but to get two points finishes is very pleasing considering there’s 44 lads on the grid.”
Having proved he can be competitive in the series, Rouse has set his sights on improving throughout the year. “My first aim for the season was to get in the points, once we did that we’re now looking at getting a top ten finish.” He adds, “the main thing is just to stay on the bike and keep building my confidence up and maybe get a podium by the end of the season.”
Looking to the future, Rouse’s ultimate goal is to turn his love, and talent, for racing into a professional career, but the young hotshot is keeping his feet on the ground. “I’ve got to be realistic, from where I am now I want to get to the front of the Championship that I’m in and then the next step would be the British Superbikes Championships and possibly the World Superbikes.”
In the meantime, Rouse is focused on making sure he makes the most of his university degree. “During the weeks when I’m not racing I’ve got to make sure I get my work done in advance,” he explains. “I’ve had to drop my part time work down from 20 hours to 12. I’m going to have to miss the next round of the Championship at Brands Hatch because it’s right before my exams.”
Next up in the Superstock calender is a meet at Brands Hatch, although Rouse is likely to miss the race because of exams.