As most of you know Niki Tuuli has been offered a full-time ride in the SIC team for the remainder of the 2018 Moto 2 season. For a young rider it is always hard when a team comes with an offer like this as we all want to be at the highest level possible in racing. We are no different as a team as for instance, if it became possible we would want to run in World Superbike in a competitive way.
After looking very good in pre-season testing, Niki has found the change from Yamaha to our Honda machine harder then anticipated. He was happy with us and we with him and we were relishing the challenge. We were for sure going in the right direction and I was confident he would find his way to the front.
Niki and I did sit down together over the weekend at Imola and I offered him my view of just how hard it will be to move into Moto 2 at any time and even more so without any testing. In my experience even if he was going to a front running Moto 2 team he will find it very hard not to just be running around at the back of the field. Like us, SIC had to let their contracted lead rider, Syahrin go when the Tech 3 team offered him the full time ride in their Moto GP team. The difference for him was that he did get some testing prior to racing for them and he was going into a settled and successful team.
I hope I am wrong as Niki is a nice guy who is good to work with and at only 22 years old has a good future in racing. He is a rider who takes time to gain confidence in himself and I do hope that when he starts in Moto 2 next week in Le Mans this does not knock his confidence. We as fans of British riders saw how hard it can be with examples of Tarran Mackenzie and Jake Dixon getting the chance to ride and although credit to them in the job they did they really did not shine in a way they both would have liked. Now both are back in the British Championship paddock and it is not easy to find another opportunity to make the jump back up into World Championship racing. We all know the ability of these riders and I also know Niki has true talent but it is a hard world and if you don’t hit the ground running as a rider you can soon be lost.
I had hoped to be able to do a joint press release to let everyone see that, despite our reservations, it was agreed by CIA Landlord Insurance Honda to allow Niki to go and ride in Moto 2 as we would never want to stand in the way of a rider achieving his full potential. Unfortunately SIC Moto 2 team, managed by Johan Stigeflet made the announcement without our knowledge. The last time we helped Stigeflet was to loan him Rathapark Wilairot for some races in 2014. He then went on to take Wilairot and his sponsor for his own team the next year. The rest of that story is history, before the season was 25% through Wilairot was sacked and the sponsor was gone at the end of the season. For Niki’s sake I do hope he does not suffer the same fate. It is a big risk he is taking.
I do wish him all the best and before some of you think I am just moaning about things, all I am trying to do is give people an insight into how things can happen even when the team and rider are getting on well and making progress together. Life is always a challenge and we will go forward in a better way for CIA Landlord Insurance, all our other sponsors, supporters and our loyal hard working team.