Brothers in motorcycle racing is not uncommon and having a family connection to a rival racer most certainly increases the excitement and emotion, not less for watching family and friends.
In recent Grand Prix history, the Espargaro brothers, KTM’s Pol and Aleix, are both in MotoGP while Marc and Alex Marquez won the MotoGP and Moto3 titles in the same year (2014). Both Brad and Darryn Binder race KTMs in Moto2 and Moto3, respectively. The Hayden and Bostrom brothers were mainstays of the American racing scene who also saw the world stage. The Lowes twins have won championships, the Dunlops - Joey and Robert then Michael and William, mastered the Isle of Man TT. Aoki, Laverty, Mackenzie - we could go on with fast bros....
But now, KTM RC Cup racing has a pair of battling brothers in the UK’s Santander Consumer Finance series that supports the British Superbike championship; Kade and Luke Verwey, from Silverstone. Yes, that Silverstone.
Massively inspired by their father, Warren, who was racing in endurance and had competed in the Manx GP (held on the Isle of Man Mountain Course) for many years, both brothers are relatively late starters to road racing. Luke, 18, is the eldest brother but studying for his GCSE exams and the extra tuition he needed meant that he got into racing later than his brother, Kade, 17, who took the first steps at aged 14. However, with exams out of the way Luke got his race licence as a seventeen-year old rookie to begin chasing down the headstart his brother had on him.
Starting in your late teens can be a challenge and there’s no substitute for seat time as the best way to learn and become competitive; but Luke had a slight advantage over others who are late to the sport - his brother, Kade.
“I get loads of tips and tricks from my brother,” quips Luke #76. “He’s been out there and has basically made all the mistakes for me. So I can learn from him. You can’t buy seat time, so having Kade as a teammate has been an advantage for me.”
Alongside the RC Cup, the brothers both race at club level on restricted 450s with Thundersport GB to increase their seat time. While they could have used the RC 390 Cup in both series, the decision was made to have different machines in case there were any incidents...
“Having two completely bikes does throw up challenges,” Kade #7 explains. “They ride differently, but that is a good thing for learning to adapt, which we will need to if we are to progress.”
Luke continues: “It also ensures we can get maximum racing throughout the season. We race each other, pretty much, every other weekend.”
Despite only 16 months between them, elder brother, Luke - something of an all-round athlete and very good Rugby player - weighs an incredible 22 kg more than little brother, Kade, at 84 kg compared to 62 kg!
“My weight is a challenge!” Luke says. “But it’s working ok for me. Although I have less horsepower than would suit me, I have the advantage of being able to out-brake people and the strength to throw the bike around more. I can be more aggressive with it.”
We asked Kade what it’s like being the younger, but the more experienced brother. “It’s great; I love working with him. When we are at a track that Luke hasn’t ridden, which is most of them, I take him out in the first session or two to help get him into the groove. We work together. It’s a great balance.”
Luke adds: “What Kade achieved last year, I try to match. Follow in his footsteps and then hopefully catch up with him, progress a bit more and then… who knows?”
And with this, both brothers burst into laughter.
Competing in two series means there is a lot of pressure on both young riders (and no doubt their family). Both boys agree that having your brother alongside you is excellent, before adding it can be annoying at times - but they always help each other when it’s needed.
The obvious question is, have they had any battles on track? Kade jumped in to reply:
“No scraps on track in the RC Cup, but at Mallory Park with Thundersport, Luke beat me! Every lap I was getting nearer to him and then that was it - race over - Luke in front. I ran out of laps, but I was so pleased for him and it was great to compete like that against each other.”
Despite missing two rounds due to an arm injury, Kade sits sixth in the overall standings heading into the final round at Brands Hatch, with a best finish of a second and third. Although 92 points further back, Luke is progressing fast towards the end of the season. So we wanted to know what would happen if they were fighting each other for position every week?
“We are both very respectful to all riders when racing,” Luke says. “But for my brother, then I would be more careful, of course. I wouldn’t probably be less aggressive on defense. Although, it will be interesting when we are racing together!”
The UK series has attracted riders based in other countries to it in order to boost their careers, such as Fenton Seabright and Brian Hart travelling from Spain for each round. The Verwey brothers see this as an advantage for everyone on the grid.
“You can recognise the British riders as we have our own style,” Kade points out. “Brian almost won the German series this year and those ADAC guys are fast! So knowing we have been taking podiums from him or been knocking on his tail is a real confidence boost. It’s great to ride with different people from other countries. You can recognise certain riding styles. I would love to be up there with Brian; his riding style is so fluid.”
The Verweys enjoy the additional exposure and crowds that comes with the British KTM RC Cup and would recommend the series for anyone wanting to learn, progress and then jump to the bigger bikes. They also comment on the benefits of learning the tracks and working with a manufacturer.
“It would be good to have more track time, but the races are more serious in this series,” Luke says. “At club level, it is more about learning than competition. We are still contemplating what to do next - 600’s are an option. We’ve learned so much but have a lot more learn.”
Outside of bike racing, the brothers are thinking of the long game. Luke has just completed his Personal Training qualification and is waiting for one more certificate so he can start working in the fitness industry. Although his dream would be to race, Kade says it is his ‘Plan B’ as he’s going to take his talent with numbers and try getting into banking or the financial sector.
We love the boy's attitude to racing and their incredible bond. They are confident, supportive and great fun to be around. We wish them well for the final round and for the rest of their careers.