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Wigley racing on the global stage after taking on new challenge

Jumping on a superbike for the first time and racing for 12 hours – when the track temperatures have hit 65 degrees – is not for the faint hearted.


But Staffordshire racer Kurt Wigley loved his first foray into the world of endurance racing having decided to sit out of the British Superbike support classes this year.

Wigley, who has been a top 10 racer in the British Supersport championship for the last few years, is taking on an exciting new challenge during 2021 having joined the British Endurance Racing Team, to compete in the FIM Endurance World Championship.

The 25-year-old, from Hednesford, said the move into endurance was not an indefinite one but added he felt he had to snap up the chance to race on the global stage when the opportunity arose.

Wigley headed out to the Estoril circuit, in Portugal, with team-mates Joe Akroyd and Jon Railton – and despite suffering an electrical issue with the bike, which caused an additional pit stop, the team recovered to secure a solid 12th-placed finish after 12 hours of intense racing.

Wigley said: "It was a great experience for me, although being chucked in the deep end is somewhat accurate, as Portugal was only the second time I had ridden a 1000cc machine, following a single track day the previous month.

"The British Endurance Racing Team are competing with a Suzuki GSXR 1000 machine and I teamed up with two fellow racers, Joe Akroyd and Jon Railton.

"We had a tough start to the race as we ended up six laps down in the first stint of the 12-hour race due to an electrical issue with the bike that caused an additional pit stop.

"That was very frustrating but a factor out of our control and we continued to put in consistent stints, eventually bring the bike home 12th position in class.

"One of the most difficult factors that we don't really experience in the UK is the heat.

"It was very important to stay well hydrated and between stints we used a paddling pool full of cold water to lie in at the back of the pit lane garages."

Wigley, who has been riding 600cc supersport machines for the last three years, said he quickly had to adapt to the more powerful superbike but soon got into a nice rhythm.

"The style of riding is slightly different as you can rely a little more on the power of the bike to get you out of the corners where as 600cc maximum mid corner speed is essential," he said.

"The bike spends a lot of time on the back wheel, which can catch you out initially when changing weight and direction.

"Estoril was a new track for me too so I had to spend some time learning it.

"The track temperature reached 65 degrees, which caused tyre management issues as we found the heat contributed to them delaminating.

"We had the pace to challenge well within the top 10 and the long aim would be getting to the top five.

"I am looking forward to to the next round – the 24-hour race at the Bol D'ore, in France – and I'm currently working on maintaining fitness as it will be an extremely challenging race."

Wigley will also be joined by his twin brother and fellow racer, Matt, for the next round although his sibling has decided to take some time out from racing to focus on fully recovering from a plethora of bad injuries.

"He has taken a step back following a series of injuries," said Wigley.

"He will be attending the 24-hour race as a reserve rider, so he will take part in the practice and qualifying sessions, but with regards to the race he will jump in if anyone sustains an injury.

"We have also entered into a new sponsorship agreement this season with Bell Helmets, which is great and last week was the first outing using the Bell ProStar helmet."

The FIM Endurance World Championship heads to Bol D'ore, September 18-19, with the final round – the Suzuka eight hours, in Japan – on November 7.

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