Borne of a chat in late 2017 between three friends who shared a passion for motorcycle racing, OMG Racing entered the British Superbike fray the following year. Gino Rea, a former Moto2 Grand Prix podium man and World Supersport contender joined the team as the sole British Superbike entrant with young talent Ben Luxton campaigning the teams’ STK1000 machine. Suzuki was the manufacturer of choice for the Cannock-based squad, the GSX-R1000 showing all the potential of being the right machine for the job under the watchful eye of Team Principal, Paul Curran, himself a former top-level British racer.
The team’s first official outing was on Spanish soil at the Cartagena Pro Test as Gino and Ben took to the track, the first of many a proud moment for all concerned. Testing is time for the rider, machine, and crew to gel, to build a relationship that will bring understanding and rewards on track. For both Gino and Ben, it was their first experience of 1000cc machinery and one that took time to develop.
The season got underway at Donington Park, the size of the task ahead of the team wasn’t lost on them such is the competitive nature of the British Superbike field however it was the dogged determination of Gino that returned the team’s first championship points with 15th place in the second race in Leicestershire. The task for Ben Luxton was more difficult, the STK1000 class is one of the most hotly contested series of the BSB support classes, and with little experience on the big bike, Ben was finding things tougher than expected.
By round four at Snetterton, a deal was in place for Ben to step to STK600 with Joe Richardson to learn his trade on the smaller capacity bike and challenge for the podiums the team knew he was capable of. A parting of ways with his current team left Ulsterman and experienced former STK1000 Champion Josh Elliott available to step into the team and look to help move them up the STK1000 rankings. The initial outing in Norfolk showed glimpses of what was to come before Josh took the team’s first win in all competitions with a stunning victory at Thruxton to truly announce the teams’ arrival in the class.
Further wins and podiums came Josh Elliott’s way as Gino Rea got to grips with his Suzuki GSXR1000 superbike. Results improved over the season and confidence started to build in the former GP campaigner. The team owners decided to do something a little special for the overseas trip to Assen, Holland as Fly OMG! was born. The team chartered an aircraft and flew 150 guests to the ‘Cathedral of Speed’ to enjoy the spectacle of British Superbikes around the legendary circuit. The team promoted Josh Elliott to superbike duty, fielding two machines in the premier class for the first time in their short history.
The pair took to the track once again for the final round at Brands Hatch for the season finale. A respectable return of results saw the curtain come down on a maiden season filled with happy memories and several ‘firsts’ for the OMG Racing team, and as all eyes turned to 2019, there were rider changes on the horizon.
A new line-up and a new look for 2019 saw OMG Racing retain the services of Josh Elliott and promote him to the superbike full time along with the recruiting of proven BSB race winner Luke Mossey and STK1000 championship contender Billy McConnell. The revised livery saw all three riders have their own colour identity with Luke in blue, Josh in pink, and Billy in yellow and it worked well as all machines were easily identifiable on track.
The opening round of 2019 at Silverstone was almost of fairytale proportions as the team celebrated their first British Superbike podiums with a win and a second place for the Ulsterman, resplendent in pink and black. Although Josh crossed the line in second place, a penalty for Tarran Mackenzie saw the Scot demoted from the win, handing the big prize to OMG Racing. To back up his exploits, Josh took a solid second place in race two to take a joint lead in the championship to Oulton Park. Teammate Mossey did a solid job for the team as both bikes came home well inside the top ten.
Oulton proved a difficult turning point in the season as the team could not get to grips with the parkland nature of the Cheshire circuit and couldn’t replicate the heroics of Silverstone. To add to the team’s woes, after apologising for finishing 5th, STK1000 man Billy McConnell was hospitalised with a burst appendix which would see the Aussie out of action for four rounds until Snetterton. One round to get comfortable then it was pole position and a podium at Thruxton before a superbike opportunity came knocking.
Cadwell Park brought the biggest media appearance for yet for OMG Racing, sadly it wasn’t a race win or double podium but a crash in testing on the Thursday night that was caught on camera by OMG Racing’s PR and Coms man, Alex. As Luke Mossey tipped into the start of Hall Bends, he was spectacularly thrown from his machine and across the track, miraculously sustaining only a hairline fracture to his femur. The incredible footage went viral across the globe.
With Luke precluded from the weekend, Billy stepped in to fill the breach as any challenge for the STK crown was lost due to illness and the Adelaide man acquitted himself well alongside Elliott, who had struggled for form since the opening round win before a huge crash down Craner Curves at Donington Park that obliterated his Suzuki and knocked his confidence.
To end a difficult season, the team campaigned three machines as rider coach James Ellison joined the fray alongside Mossey and McConnell for the remainder of the year before announcing at Brands Hatch that the team would be moving to BMW machinery for 2020, with a rider line up to be announced. That rider line-up was Mossey retained for a second season alongside Spanish former MotoGP rider Hector Barbera who made his full-time BSB debut in 2019 with some encouraging results as Billy McConnell would once again contest the STK1000 championship.
Possibly the biggest news for the team in 2020 was the sponsorship deal with RICH Energy, as the premium energy drink made its debut in UK motorsport. The black and gold livery on the BMW S1000RR machines looked stunning, reminiscent of days gone by and the JPS-backed Norton’s of the 80s.
Pre-season began with aplomb as Hector and Luke finished 1st and 3rd at the official test at Monteblanco and P3 and P5 at Jerez with Billy topping STK1000 times at the home of the Spanish Grand Prix. Hopes were high in the camp as the team embarked on their third full season in British Superbikes but little did we know just how difficult 2020 was to be for everyone.
The global pandemic made the world a very different place and the British Superbike paddock and Road Racing events were no exception. A truncated season of six rounds over three short months with three Superbike races per round meant a demanding and intense time for all during the season however one important highlight was the team proudly finished as top BMW team for the season, a special feat considering the strength and experience of the factory-backed BMW team in BSB!
For 2021 RICH Energy OMG Racing freshened up their rider line-up and added some youth to the ranks as Kyle Ryde and Brad Ray, two of the brightest young talents on the British scene came together to take on the talent filled BSB field. Pre-season testing showed that Kyle was comfortable on the new BMWM1000RR, firmly in the top five on combined times (the best time at the end of each test) for the first two tests at Silverstone and Snetterton and even topping the times in the final session at Silverstone as Brad recovered from a minor wrist procedure. Aussie favourite Billy McConnell returned to challenge for the Pirelli National Superstock Championship, looking fast from the first test. With the Road Racing Season still in suspension, James Hillier turned to the sand, finishing on the podium in the Rally of Andalucia and qualifying for the prestigious Dakar rally while Dave Johnson kept bike fit in Australia, unable to travel overseas.
In motorcycle racing, things rarely go to plan and 2021 was no different. Despite the early season promise both Brad and Kyle struggled to continually get the best out of the BMW M1000RR despite the best efforts of rider and crew. An exceptional second place at Donington Park in August was a huge shot in the arm from Brad Ray and the team, a podium feat he repeated at Oulton Park in mid-September with a strong third place. For Kyle it was more of a struggle to extract the best from his machine, unable to match the top ten pace of his great friend and teammate. Kyle’s chance to shine came in the rain of Donington Park in October as he stormed to second place, reigniting his fire and his smile.
Billby was in contention for the Superstock crown all season despite two difficult Donington Park rounds in which only one race was completed and narrowly missing out on the win in the final race. A raft of pole positions and podiums were the story of the season; however, wins eluded the Adelaide man until the very last race of the year at Brands Hatch. An outside chance of the title was still possible, but a win was all that the former Supersport champion wanted as the title chance was in other riders’ hands. The hard-fought win came and second place in the championship was confirmed.
2022 sees a switch in manufacturer to Yamaha and their all-conquering R1 machine for the RICH Energy OMG Racing team. Having already testing the Yamaha R1 in Spain before Christmas, Brad Ray smashed the Cartagena lap record in the process. The team retain the BSB talents of Brad Ray and Kyle Ryde for the upcoming Bennetts British Superbike season, while James Hillier and Aussie David Johnson will fly the Black and Gold flag at the NW200 and the Isle of Man TT. Junior rider Chloe Jones will race in RICH Energy OMG Racing colours as the 18-year-old steps up to the Pirelli Junior Superstock Championship with the team after a rollercoaster year in Junior Supersport. Another fast lady racer, 18-year-old Lissy Whitmore joins the team to campaign a Yamaha R3 in the British Junior Supersport Championship after the completion of a successful test in Spain.
It’s a busy year ahead for the team but they’re ready for the challenge.