Born into a motorcycling family, Rory started racing mini-motos at the age of seven. After taking the ‘Novice of the Year’ title in the 2008 Scottish championships, he progressed to become runner-up in 2009 and the Scottish Junior 4.2 Mini Moto Champion in 2010.
That year also saw Rory head south and compete in the FAB Racing British Championship, where he won both the Junior and Junior Production Mini Moto titles. Two more British titles came the following year, in addition to winning the MiniGP 50cc championship on a Metrakit GP50 machine. In 2012 he moved up and won the British MiniGP 70cc title, along with the British Junior Production Mini Moto class.
Recognising his talent, the Scottish Auto Cycle Union granted Rory special dispensation to ride in the Formula 125 class at the age of 11, rather than the usual 12. Riding against older and more experienced riders on 125cc bikes Rory on his GP80 machine remarkably ended the season with a further three titles to his name.
After turning 12 in September, Rory was invited to compete at the final Aprilia Superteen challenge race of the season at Donington Park. Riding a borrowed Aprilia RS125 on a track he had never previously ridden on, Rory went on to top the podium in one of his four races, becoming the youngest ever race winner in this competitive and highly prestigious series.
In 2014, Rory entered the Superteen series full-time. A series which has developed the careers of a whole host of professional riders, including world champions Casey Stoner, Cal Crutchlow, Sam Lowes and Chaz Davies, and Rory was determined to follow in the wheel tracks of such illustrious talent and make it to the MotoGP stage. After a fantastic season Rory won the Superteens Championship on his 13th birthday, adding his name to this prestigious winner’s trophy.
In between Superteen rounds, Rory took part in some rounds of the Scottish Championships at Knockhill and East Fortune, honing his skills on a Honda RS125 GP machine which he had once again been given special dispensation to ride in Scotland by the Scottish Auto Cycle Union.
During the 2014 season Rory also had the opportunity to wildcard in the European Moriwaki 250 Junior Cup which came to Brands Hatch for the BSB round. Rory was then invited back for a second wildcard this time at Assen where he finished on the podium.
Behind the scenes were some truly great sponsors who all played a pivotal role in the 2014 season. Tokheim came on board and British insurance giants Bennetts picked Rory up after a ‘search for a star’ campaign and helped him out in numerous ways throughout the year including enlisting the help of Ex British and World Superbike Champion Neil Hodgson to advise and mentor Rory.
In October 2014 Rory was invited to attend the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup three day Selection Event. From over 1000 applicants from around the world, 108 riders were invited to Guadix Circuit in Spain. Over the course of three days a panel of experts selected twelve of the best young riders from around the world to join the 2015 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup… and Rory was one of them.
To round off a perfect year, Rory was contacted by Racing Steps Foundation who, having watched his progress over the past two years, wanted to help take him forward to reach his future potential.
In 2015, with the backing of Racing Steps Foundation, Rory joined Team KRP run by Mark Keen and entered the international stage with the Spanish RFME CEV National Championship. Following his 14th birthday in September, he then also dipped his toe into the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3 Junior World Championship (the breeding ground for past, present and future MotoGP stars). Running alongside his RSF campaign Rory was also competing throughout Europe in the prestigious Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup (support race series to MotoGP through which both of 2015’s Moto3 and Moto2 Champions graduated). Bennetts carried on their support for Rory throughout the 2015 season as did Tokheim and Rory was also confirmed as an Arai supported rider for all championships.
In 2016, Rory continued his education on the KRP-run FTR KTM in the Junior World Championship, as well as in the Red Bull Rookies, where he would go on to score podium finishes at Aragon and Assen on his way to sixth in the final standings. The following year opened with the now 15-year-old Rory winning the first race of the Rookies Cup, at Jerez, while the Junior World Championship brought best finishes of fifth place, now on a KTM RC250R (M36) run by KRP. The season wasn’t all rosy though, with a number of crashes – not to mention a lack of data for the KTM – blunting his challenge.
With Racing Steps Foundation winding up its operation at the end of the 2017 season, Rory found himself without a ride for 2018. Dorna kindly stepped in, offering a place in the inaugural British Talent Cup. With four wins, Rory convincingly won the title. He also made the progression to bigger bikes, supplementing his Talent Cup outings with Scottish championship appearances on a Kirkcaldy Kawasaki supplied ZX-6R and entering three rounds of the Pirelli National Superstock 600 championship, where he impressed each time.
For 2019, Rory remains with Kawasaki. Running a Chris Walker Kawasaki supplied ZX-6R, 17-year-old Skinner is once again following in the tyre tracks of Crutchlow and Lowes by competing in the Dickies British Supersport Championship.
The story continues…