20 year-old Jake Sheridan was a bit of a revelation at the beginning of this season building on an excellent 2017 by coming out swinging and ready to win in both the Ulster and Irish MX2 championships.
Injury by the way of a broken back brought his momentum to a temporary halt but Sheridan has an unbelievable determination and will to succeed in part fuelled by the tragic passing of his brother in a practice crash.
Sheridan is one of the most single-minded riders I have ever interviewed and is back in action this weekend at Desertmartin British championship.
How did you first get into the sport?
I would have been around 8 I think, I don’t quite remember. My cousin had a bike before me he had a 65 and we started out on a little PW50 quad, then my cousin got a 65cc bike and I was begging my dad for a bike so I eventually got a KX65 and it started off there in a little field just two minutes down from the house. So, I got the passion from that, my dad had a motocross bike and he rode one or two motocross events so it pretty much originated from my dad getting me the bike and it took off from there.
My first race was in Ferns, from that really, we just loved it and kept racing every weekend and grew more and more passion for it and it took off from there. We jumped on the 250 and that’s when we started to get real serious about it. We tagged up with Martin Barr through Graeme Vigors and he pretty much introduced me to British championship racing which was a massive help, it was definitely tough and definitely not easy.
You have been on the radar for a while but seemed to take a jump up last year and again over this winter you seemed to take another leap and were up front in the Irish and Ulster plus doing well in England, what do you put that improvement down to over the last six months or so?
Pretty much just wanting to succeed that bit more. I watch the likes of Martin and Graeme do well and I want to be as good as them if not better. Watching the world champion riders, seeing the Nations and saying to myself I can get there if I put the work in. You just go to the track and put the work in and push the limits, it’s the only way you can get faster and stronger, it’s just reassuring yourself all the time. If this is what you want you have to put the work in to achieve your goals to be on the Nations and be on the MX2 grid. It’s just that constant grind, keep the head down and go for it.
At the start of the year you were leading races in the Irish and Ulster and you looked very comfortable, at the first Irish you didn’t make mistakes under pressure, is that something you have always been good with or you have developed over the last couple of years?
It was a great feeling. I have never really raced at home, it was a great feeling and I wasn’t out of my comfort zone or anything like that, I was pretty comfortable with the pace I was running and I didn’t make any mistakes, I wasn’t out of control and it’s great to see the improvement after the work during the winter where some days you get good days and some days you get bad days, so it was nice to see the improvement in the Ulster and Irish against really fast lads that had been winning for the last couple of years, it was a great feeling and a great boost of confidence.
You mentioned Martin Barr helping you, how much has he helped and what have you learnt from him?
Definitely dedication. I am working hard, he said you have to put the work in and showed me the ropes of English racing and training hard. It’s down to your self-motivation, he left it up to me to take it on-board and I took it on-board and you just have to go for it. It’s good to have someone there to guide you through England and show you that you have to put the work in in every training session in the gym.
With what happened to your brother, do you feel that adds to your motivation now?
Yeah definitely, every rider thinks you don’t want to get hurt and it holds you back a little and it helped me with that. You get one chance at this and you have to chase the dream and go for it, that was a push for me and settled my head. That fear of intimidation by other riders, if you are racing an international race with Herlings or them they are just another guy, so it definitely helped me with that. It has definitely helped with my motivation.
What are your expectations for Desertmartin this weekend?
My expectations are just to ride my best and hopefully get inside the top 20 and if not I’ll just take it as it comes and work harder! I’m feeling okay on the bike at the moment but might tell a different story with the track getting rough and the pace really fast! My fitness on the bike is not 100% but I just have to build on it and get better as the year goes on”.
I would just like to thank my mum and dad, CCM and Westpark fitness and the all the people that help me out.
Martin Barr on Jake…
I have worked with Jake and his family for quite a few years. From the first time I met him, I have always said he has the style and I knew the speed would come. His dad Dave is one of my main sponsors and I appreciate everything he has done for me. What they have been through as a family, nobody understand what has been going on and how they feel, just the way they came through it and how Jake has come on leads and bounds has been fantastic. It’s been brilliant to see him getting faster and faster
He had a really good winter and came out swinging this year and things were going nicely. Unfortunately, he had that crash at Desertmartin which has put him back a little bit. But I said to him as long as he comes back when he’s 100% and builds it up he still has a long season to prove to people what he is all about and what he can do.
Finishing second in the expert MX2 class last year was good, I know he wanted to win it but with everything that went on, I think it was fantastic to be battling for the championship win. I have no doubt once he comes back from injury he will bounce straight back to where he left off. Next year I think he will be a real surprise to a lot of people. Hats to Dave, Jake and all the family he is a hard worker and grafter and he makes sure he does everything right. It is a joy to see him get better and better and be a part of his journey, I help him as much as I can, hopefully we can keep the whole thing going to see what his true potential is.
Interview: Jonathan McCready
Pics: Nigel McKinstey