WorldSBK: Exclusive Interview with Indy Offer
We spoke to Indy Offer who is a 17-year-old young prodigy in the World Supersport 300 class.
Indy Offer is a rider who has moved into the World Championship incredibly quickly after making his racing debut in 2018, he raced in the British Junior Supersport class in 2019 which is part of the British Superbikes championship. In the same season, he was given the opportunity to ride in the World Supersport 300 championship as a replacement rider in just his second season of racing, he competed in the final round of the 2019 season at Magny Cours with his current team. He was one of the youngest full-time riders in the Supersport 300 class in 2020 at just 16 years old riding for the Scuderia Maranga Racing Team who boasts a strong line up of riders including Borja Sanchez.
Offer is consistently improving his race craft and has come an incredibly long way in his short time of racing with his team believing there is much potential in the young British rider working with him on a multi-year basis. When he is not racing he spends his time training with the Supermoto Land Husqvarna Team who are a Husqvarna supported Spanish Supermoto team that aid Indy in his training in Spain.
After starting racing in 2018 you have come a long way incredibly quickly, do you feel your lesser experience compared to competitors hinders you or do you feel that your natural talent and speed on track supersedes the lack of experience?
I wouldn’t say it hinders me, it definitely makes it a lot harder but not in the way of hindering me, it motivates me more and gives me more pride in my results because I know that my competitors have been riding since they were 6-7 years old and I am only a few seconds off them in the same category.
These riders have been racing for 13 years and I haven’t been racing that long, it’s difficult but at least if I do get a bad result I can look at it knowing that I haven’t been racing that long, I imagine what I could be like with 10-12 years experience.
It’s not a negative but it definitely makes it harder.
You ride with the number 18, why did you choose this number?
It’s not the best story but I was born on the 18th May, when I first started racing we bought a bike and I was racing on tracks within a month so there wasn’t much time to think of a number, we saw 18 was free and we chose that. It is great for me as not many riders run this number.
This year will be your second full season in the World Supersport 300 class, what are you doing differently this year compared to your rookie year last year?
When I first came into the World Championship we [Indy and the team] always looked at it as a 3 maybe 4-year plan, you see some riders go in, race for a year then leave the class. So for the first year, we spoke to the team who understood I had to learn all the tracks, I’d be turning up to tracks where my competitors had been racing for years and I have to learn it within an hour.
The first year was understanding the tracks and also how the other riders ride, they ride much differently to how we ride in Britain because of the tracks, Aragon and Jerez are a little bit different to Oulton Park and Knockhill so the way you ride these tracks is completely different, adjusting to that takes a few rounds. It only really clocked in the last few rounds how to ride like the world riders, as soon as you can understand how to do this that’s when the lap times come in because otherwise you’re pushing as hard as you can but you end up going slower or you lap time doesn’t change. When you understand what they’re doing as riders your time will drop a lot, so the first year was about learning everything and taking it all in.
This year we want to refine everything and push in the class and look for good results at the end of the second year and during the third year in the class, you can get hung up on not getting results and start changing bikes and classes. We thought it was best to stick to this class and team and see how well we can do and go from there.
In 2019 you raced in the British Junior Supersport Championship before moving to the Supersport 300 World Championship at the end of the season, what did you find the most difficult about this move?
The 2019 season was a difficult season for me, we had a bike problem every round bar one, so in terms of results and my confidence in riding it was quite low, we were pushing, pushing and pushing with no results. We found out what the problem with the bike was and it was because the chassis were bent way out of where they should’ve been which wasn’t great.
We turned up to round one and were fighting for 7th / 8th place, then you’d go to round 2 and be 36th, as a rider in such a mental sport it was destroying me, it was a very emotional weekend every weekend, you end up not wanting to go to race weekends because you know it will be the same all over again. It was tough as it was a father and son team and I saw my dad trying as hard as he could to sort the problems out which adds pressure to me, it was very difficult in terms of that.
I got invited to go do a test with my current team and it was the best I had ever ridden up until that point, the data was great, the team were great and they were loving it, I was only about a second and a half from one of the world championship riders there, it was only a small circuit but I was wondering ‘where has this come from?’ the bike issues had damaged my confidence and I believed wasn’t as good as I thought I was, this test showed me I was much faster than I thought I was. After the test everything changed a bit, you start looking at the world stage, the teams start looking at you differently and people around you change, then going to World Supersport was a completely different experience.
I got quite lucky in the way I entered in World Supersport as one of the riders in the team got injured so I got an offer to go and fill a spot, no pressure just try it out, the team said if I could get there I would be able to race, to be able to ride in the World Championship with that offer of just arriving there doesn’t come across every day, there is a lot of money in the sport.
I was mulling it over before taking the opportunity to go to Magny Cours, it was a very difficult weekend and I got unlucky crashing on oil in the 3rd lap of the first session, it was a very rollercoaster weekend but it was different because people weren’t looking at my results but looking at me. They could see more into the future than I could, looking at how they could mould me into a better rider, not at the initial results which was amazing for me because there is a worry of having to perform to get the ride.
The way I entered into the championship was great, it was the easiest, simplest and most chilled out way it could’ve possibly been which is why I did the World Championship last year because the team were so good and so amazing, they saw I had potential and were happy not to get results at the moment but believe we can get results in the future. It is great having a whole team around me supporting me, now looking at that I can see why riders struggle when they don’t have a good team around them or a bad relationship with the team because just being in my team who are so supportive changes everything.
I don’t know how riders can do a full season in a team where they don’t feel supported and aren’t enjoying it, especially going from a father and son team to this, I have 6 people just focusing on me it was an eye-opener. You turn up and you have a full truck and 10 people who’s main job is to focus on you, I can’t explain how much it helps to have that support.
Indy getting stuck in at Catalunya
What are the biggest differences between the BSB and WorldSSP 300 spec bikes?
Because the main manufacturers have such a big input in the world stage you find that you get the new parts and over the years everything filters down into BSB as expected but it’s not so much what Kawasaki and Yamaha give it’s what the teams are doing, the way the teams are setting up the bikes and putting the power.
I have been to track days on my World Supersport spec bike and there have been BSB bikes overtaking me down the straight, I think I saw one video of a Yamaha at Cartagena and they had the same top speed as us in the World Championship down the back Jerez straight which is 1km long, Tristan [Finocchiaro] touched on it when he did a wildcard in worlds, he had the fastest bike out there on the top speed by like 10mph.
The difference between BSB and WorldSSP is how they set up the bikes, they are setting them up for the initial power out of the corner, they find that the faster the bike is out of the corner the faster it is down the straight even though you’re not getting the higher top speed so I’d say that’s the biggest difference. It’s not necessarily down to parts and machinery as that is down to money. The experience and knowledge they have in the World Championship is the biggest difference, they are turning up with 10 man teams in artic lorries whereas in BSB it’s a lot of father and son racing out the back of a van which means you won’t have the experience or knowledge these guys have which is the biggest difference.
How has your training approach changed since moving to Spain to race full time in the World Championship?
Before in the UK, it was difficult because I had exams and was just finishing secondary school so although you’re trying to devote everything to racing, the way the UK school system works means you still have to do your exams. You don’t want to put everything on racing in case it does go wrong, so in BSB it was difficult because although you are training hard you can’t focus on it as much as you like.
After going to worlds and seeing how much experience these riders have you wonder ‘how are they so fast straight away’ and it’s because they are training every day, whether it be flat track, motocross, Supermoto, anything, they are on a bike. In the UK it is difficult to ride a bike constantly because of the weather and restrictions.
I have been living in Spain for the last 2 months, I’ve got some friends here who race in the Supermoto championship here, the Supermoto Land Husqvarna team and I’ve been training with them nearly every single day for the past 2 months and I still find I am on the back foot as they are still training more than me! That’s been the biggest difference as I have seen how devoted you have to be to worlds and I have made that commitment.
I feel also it did come with age, it would be harder if I was 13 or 14, you are still young you want to play with your friends whereas I am 17 going on 18 with these guys and kind of doing it myself, devoting everything I’ve got to worlds. There is no point turning up if you aren’t going to put in the work, you are turning up and immediately on the back foot straight away so you have to devote everything you’ve got to it otherwise you will always be on the back foot.
So far what has been your favourite track you have raced and are there any you are looking forward to which you didn’t get to race due to COVID?
Well, we didn’t get to do any Italian tracks last year, I am really looking forward to racing in Misano. I didn’t get to go to Portimao last year because I broke my ankle so I’d say Portimao and Misano definitely because they are some of the biggest circuits in the world and I missed out on them.
In terms of a favourite track, I came away from every weekend thinking ‘that is definitely my favourite track!’ So it changed every race weekend, at the moment I have to say Estoril is the best track I have been to so far just because I made the most progress there and did my best result but I am sure it will change by the time we get to round 1! I love Aragon, the circuits over here [Spain] are so good it’s hard not to love them all.
Looking through your social media you clearly enjoy riding Supermoto, what is it about Supermoto riding you enjoy so much?
It’s because it’s so cheap, you can crash the bikes and the most damage you will do is breaking a handguard or a footpeg at most, you’re only doing £60/£70 most of damage maximum, most of the time you drop them and pick them back up which is a huge benefit overriding a proper road race bike where you can damage fairings, handlebars, rear sets the works, you can easily do thousands of pounds worth of damage in one small mistake.
You can train how hard you can brake, accelerate and throw the bikes around very well and you have that forgiveness because they are very forgiving whereas the race bikes not so much, on a race bike if you’re going to hi-side, you’re going to hi-side, the same goes for tucking the front. Unless you’re an alien like Marc Marquez you’re not going to save it, whereas with Supermoto you can save the crashes constantly which does help with your skill because you get that muscle memory of when it does go wrong you know what to do instantly.
You can do all these skills and finesse with them which translate onto the racing bikes, of course there are differences as they are different bikes but they are good to train on because of how forgiving they are, you can train really hard on them and perfect every little thing.
What are your goals for this season?
I want to keep making progress, my goals are always changing because you want to keep pushing yourself which you need to do in racing if you want to be the best, you have to keep pushing your goals. At the moment I don’t have any huge goals but they have changed the format in world so there isn’t a qualifying group 1 and group 2 which makes it so much better as before you’d have that ‘Last Chance Race’, if some riders messed up qualifying you’d find yourself in a race with [Bahatin] Sofuoğlu, [Scott] Deroue, [Ana] Carrasco which was quite interesting! You aren’t given as much of a chance to progress really but this year it is 40 riders in qualifying which will be much better for me, you aren’t with the same riders every time whereas before it was 15 riders in my group.
You are trying to learn but the class is so close that the top 35 riders are within a second with some riders learning everything so I think that this new format will be the best part about this year because there will be more people to tag along to and get into groups with, plus there will be 40 people on track so I can definitely find someone to follow.
In terms of goals, I want to keep pushing and making progress because the progress we are making now is really really good so if we can keep doing that and keep everyone happy then I think that that’s good. It all keeps coming together more and more every day, learning new things every day, as much as I want to be a world champion tomorrow I will just keep chipping away and going at it and we will be just fine.
EMR – Thank you for talking to us.
Indy – Thank you.
We recommend following Indy and the Supermotoland Husqvarna team on social media if you want to keep up with them and their seasons, see below.
Indy’s social links: