Craig Jones - 2006 Rider Profile
2006 Rider Profiles
Craig had his first taste of motorbikes at just three years old, when his Mum bought him a little Yamaha PW50 motocross bike for a bit of fun and the young Jones enjoyed many years of scrambling on his 'peewee' in the large field behind his family home.
Come the age of six when he was able to start racing, his Dad, Steve, who came from a speedway and grass track background, introduced Craig to motocross. "I had all the kit," explains Craig, "but it just never really interested me. I think at the time I was a bit scared of motocrossing, watching all these kids crashing and getting hurt, so I never ended up racing!"
Then at the age of ten, Craig witnessed mini moto racing for the first time and was hooked. "My Dad did The Great North Run and met a guy who raced minibikes for a team and it went from there. In 1995 he gave me three or four rides at race events and then the opportunity of a full season's racing in '96 when I was just eleven." That year, Craig ran away with the championship to take the British Junior Mini Moto title.
The following year the young champion progressed to the British Senior Mini Moto class, but was spotted by Tom Walker from TJW Racing at the GP race at Donington while performing a minibike demonstration. Impressed by his display, Tom said that if Craig's riding was still as impressive as he had just witnessed when he was sixteen and legally able to race, then he would give him a ride. Contact was maintained the following year as Craig helped Tom's son with his minibike racing, and coupled with the racing age restriction being reduced from sixteen to thirteen, Tom's promise came good and launched Craig's road racing career in 1999 in the British Superteen Championship.
The next turning point in Craig's career came at the end of 2000 when he saw, whilst reading MCN, that Sanyo Honda were looking for a young rider for a new series of 600cc production bikes. Craig explains, "I applied for the ride in the December when I was still only fifteen, and they invited me and four other riders to a test at Mallory Park . It was the first time I'd ever ridden a 600cc bike and it was an experience like nothing I've ever had before in my life, coming from 125s! The whole day was wet and I made loads of mistakes and was sliding around all over the place on the supersport bike, but I was doing it lap after lap without letting it phase me. I think they saw how much I wanted the ride and that I could keep a level head in grueling and difficult circumstances, and I guess that's what made them offer me the ride."
The 2001 season started well, but a serious crash at Oulton Park - a high-side which hurled the young Brit into an Armco barrier protecting a bridge parapet - left him with internal injuries, a broken left leg and right knee, resulting in over a month's stay in hospital and an end to his racing season. "It took until the Wednesday, after the Sunday crash, for me to come round from being knocked out," Craig said. "We sent my helmet back and the test results showed a 96mph head impact! That point was make or break for me, in terms of deciding if I wanted to carry on racing or not. But I did, so went back into the British Junior Superstock Championship the following year thanks to David Trigg, who gave me the opportunity on a Suzuki GSXR600."
The first half of 2002 saw Craig win six out of seven rounds, the seventh only stolen from him due to mechanical failure. Fortunes changed in the second half of the season however, as fellow adversary Tom Sykes experienced Craig's early season 'luck' whilst Craig suffered further mechanical issues and race DNFs. Whilst it came close on a few occasions, Craig remained confident that he wouldn't lose the championship and took the title that year.
The next step up the racing career ladder came in 2003, with FPR's Team Manager, Jack Valentine , seeing great potential in Craig and offering him a ride with his Triumph Valmoto team. Craig continues, "The biggest thing for me that year was working with Jim Moodie. I spent a lot of time with him and he really helped me with my riding, fitness and general things - in fact I still go to him for advice now! That also really helped me the following year, when I was the sole rider for Jack."
Craig had a good start to 2004 with a second place finish and a new lap record at the opening Silverstone round, but development issues hindered the bike's reliability and consistency. However, a race victory at the final round at Donington was much deserved and provided another turning point in Craig's career by bringing him to the forefront of people's minds, in time for the 2005 season.
Despite being eager to move into the World Supersport championship for the 2005, the timing wasn't right and so Craig opted for his third year in the British Supersport championship, this time on a Honda, and finished the season an impressive second place in the championship. His wish to compete in the world series came true however. As a wild card entrant for the Silverstone and Brands Hatch rounds of the World Supersport series, Craig impressed with a front row qualifying position and eighth place finish at each race respectively. Then as a stand-in rider for the Winston Ten Kate Honda team at Brno he took a sixth place finish - in a new team environment, on a new bike and at a new track.
Having finished the 2005 season on a high, Craig rekindled his World Championship aspirations and comes to the World and Superbike stages for the first time, with Foggy PETRONAS Racing, for the 2006 season.
2005 2nd - British Supersport Championship (Northpoint Honda Racing - CBR600)
7 podiums (3 x 2nds - Silverstone, Mondello Park, Brands Hatch. 4 x 3rds - Brands Hatch, Knock Hill, Mallory Park, Thruxton).
Competed in 3 rounds of the World Supersport Championship. 6 th at Brno as a stand in rider for Winston Ten Kate Honda, 8 th at Brands Hatch and a front row qualifying at Silverstone (both with Northpoint Honda) before a mechanical problem cut the race short.
2004 8th - British Supersport Championship (Triumph Valmoto - Daytona 600)
2 podiums (first race win at the last round at Donington and 2 nd at the first round at Silverstone), 2 front row starts. Voted Sky Sports Rider of the Day at final round at Donington.
Dutch Supersport Championship wild card entrant at Assen TT circuit with Kobutex Racing Ten Kate Honda - 4 th place.
World Supersport Championship wild card entrant at Silverstone with Triumph Valmoto - 12 th place.
2003 7th - British Supersport Championship (Triumph Valmoto - Daytona 600)
1 pole position (Knock Hill), first British Supersport podium (3 rd at last round at Donington). Winner of the Steve Hislop Young Rider of the Year Memorial
2002 1st - British Junior Superstock Championship (Roundstone Suzuki - GSXR600)
6 wins, 4 seconds, 4 pole positions and 8 lap records.
2001 British Junior Superstock Championship (Sanyo Honda CBR600)
Finished in top six in every race entered. First 600cc podium finish (3 rd ) at Brands Hatch before injury forced an early end to the season.
2000 British Superteen Championship (Aprilia RS125). Half season. 4 podiums.
British 125 Championship (Honda RS125). Half season. All top 10 finishes. Awarded RK Rider of the Year Trophy
1999 4th - British Superteen Championship (Aprilia RS125).
First road race victory ( Oulton Park ), 4 podiums, 4 lap records
1998 1st - British Senior Mini Moto Championship (Polini)
World Mini Moto Championship race win ( UK round )
1997 2nd - British Senior Mini Moto Championship (Polini)
1996 1st - British Junior Mini Moto Championship (Polini). 8 rounds, 8 poles, 8 wins.
1995 First race win (Shah Alam, Malaysia, 125cc). Only competed in first four races due to contractual issues