Interview: Glenn McCormick

Glenn McCormick had a roller-coaster season in 2018 but it ended with ultimate high of a thrilling Ulster championship title win and a best ever result in the British championship with a top ten result. 

McCormick, known for his stylish and technical riding style, perhaps showed the best form of his career in the second half of the season after injury threatened to ruin the season before it had even started.  

We sat down with the always smiling Ulster MX2 champ to talk about his season from racing in front of his home crowd at the Belfast Arenacross to those nail-biting final laps at Tinker Hill as well as his plans for 2019.  

McCormick at the Belfast Arenacross. Pic: Nigel McKinstry

I guess we will start with Arenacross, a pretty glamourous start to your 2018 season, how did you feel it went? 

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I got the call on the Wednesday and a space had become available and they thought I was suitable for it, which I really appreciated. It was nice to see a bit of recognition for previous years. There were a lot of who weren’t really for me doing it and thought I was a wee bit mad especially because it was on a 450. In Arenacross. But it was an opportunity and a life experience I would have regretted now doing, you regret the things you don’t do in life. To be teammates with Bobryshev and work with Neil Prince and the guys at Race FX, it was pretty cool. They were all brilliant with me, Rob Stringer was my mechanic and he taught me a lot in a short space of time.  I learnt a lot from it.  

McCormick at Tinker Hill Pic: Nigel McKinstry

You looked good both nights, how did you find the class and the pace? 

Yeah, I hadn’t been training for it, those guys do that stuff form August/September. So, to jump in there and do it, I was a little bit out of my depth at the start. By the end of the weekend I was hanging onto to them so I was pretty pleased with my progress.  After the first practice I came in and Neil said,’ what do you think of the bike?’ I said, ‘yeah it’s definitely sharp.’ Then he told me it was one of Bobryshev’s GP engines in it! When he told me that I was thinking, ‘I don’t want to wreck it!’ It was a brilliant experience over the whole weekend, I don’t feel I was out of place, if I had known it was happening I could have been more prepared for it. But it was an experience I will never forget. 

You went to Spain but got injured just before the start of the local season, how much of a disappointment was that, everything seemed to be going so well for you? 

Yeah everything had been going right, it was probably the best I had ever been riding. I went to Spain and it was free practice, I set the quickest lap and the second lap I was rolling round and going over a jump the bike just cut out on the take-off. It was the biggest crash I ever had, it was a big set-back for me from being so high in confidence to being so low. It was a big down-hill step-down and I landed at the bottom of it, to be honest I was pretty lucky to get away with just a broken collarbone.  

Pic: Nigel McKinstry

I was lying there and there was a lot of thoughts going through your head, it’s not just me now in life, I have a little one so it’s not all about yourself anymore and that was a hard pill swallow at the time. But we are motocrossers and we just get on with it after a day or two, you are ready to go back at it. But it was a big set-back, especially with the way I felt I was riding, I felt like how I rode at the last British was how I had been riding before that crash. So that was a wee bit frustrating. 

You came back for the first round of the season and you were still going well, but probably not the level you wanted to be, your intensity and pace eventually came back to you but was it frustrating trying to get back to that point in the first half of the year? 

Even after I broke my collarbone, I was riding three weeks later at Magilligan and felt really good then I came together with someone else and went down. That was almost the beginning of the end for me, it was hard to get my head around, everything seemed hard and I just wasn’t enjoying it. When I went to Desetmartin I was still there or there abouts, but I wasn’t where I wanted to be or had been before the crashes.  

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It was a frustrating year all year because I felt I was always chasing my tail and behind a bit, it wasn’t an awful lot but when you are leading a race and Jason catches you from about 20 seconds back, then when he passes you can stay with him no problem. I think it was a bit of mental problem for myself but once I got over that I was able to enjoy it again I was back to my old self and probably rode the best I have ever rode.  

Your intensity seemed to be higher that ever this year, you have always been smooth and technical but Jason has maybe been more aggressive, but in the second half of the year you seemed to be able to match his intensity, was that something you worked on or just something that you have got better at as you got older? 

I think it’s maybe a bit of both. It was something I was not always comfortable with before, and something I was definitely trying to find. At the start of the year it was something I had found until the crash and then all year it was about finding it again. I spent a lot of time in the summer working on that in the summer and it just all clicked and I was back to where I should have been a long time ago! 

McCormick holds off Meara in a thrilling final moto at Tinker Hill Pic: Nigel McKinstry

That brings us to the last couple of rounds of the Ulster championship, the depth might not have been there but you and Jason were running pretty much top ten British championship speed and it was all out for the championship between you both. How do you look back on that, do you enjoy those battles or was there quite a lot of stress in that moment? 

Yeah at the start of the year I never thought I would be that position, so then it got to the stage later that a I thought, ‘here, I can win this, let’s see what happens.’ It was always Jason’s to lose, he had the lead in the championship, I enjoy it, it is always great racing and I would say it is probably the best championship that has went down in a long time. The pace, I think it showed in the last British I was third fastest (best lap) in one of the races even though I fell off and lost my goggles. So, it just shows the pace we were running.  

It’s a bit unfortunate because it is hard to adapt to the tracks over there (and bring the pace from home) just because the tracks are so different, that hurts us a bit over there but I think we are definitely riding at a good pace which is nice to see, but you have to show it on a bigger stage. 

That last moto and couple of laps at Tinker Hill were intense to watch, Jason went for the pass and made contact, how did you feel that last half a lap when you realised you had won it? 

Yeah I had sat behind him then Jason fell off and I was leading and then he caught me up, I was trying to ride steady and not make a mistake and he was right unto me. So I was like, ‘this is going to be a dogfight!’ You know it’s coming, if it was anyone else they would have done the same, Jason had a bit of a lunge and we came together and it ripped his gear lever off.  It was nice for me, I wasn’t complaining, but for a spectator you were all probably waiting for us to come back round and see the last lap and last corner.  

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As soon as I came out round the big bowl turn and realised there was no-one behind me, it was a nice half-a-lap! It was very enjoyable and after the whole year there was a lot of emotion in it, it was nice, I was very happy. 

McCormick celebrates with his family and team. Pic: Nigel McKinstry

As you were saying there, your performances in the British championship, you were probably showing them the pace we all already knew you had from home, what made the difference? 

I think it was just finding that intensity. That was something I always struggled with, I was always quick come the end of the race and running the same pace but their first two or three laps they were 3 to 4 seconds quicker. That’s what you’re losing at the start of every race and it’s so hard to make that back. It was just finding that and getting the confidence and believing you can do it, and having the right people. You just learn and believe you could do it. It showed at that last round, it was what I expected but I think I could have done a lot better, but you have to take the positives and apply it to next year.  

I was at Duns and you were running third I think and battling with Martin Barr for a couple of laps, is it bit surreal to be able to battle with riders like that now? 

That’s right, it’s confidence thing with the starts too. When you haven’t run at that pace (up front with a good start) it’s a bit of shock to the system! You are up with people you looked up to and you actually forget yourself for a minute thinking, ‘I’m up here!’ But it’s nice to be able to do that. At Duns the second race was so wet I didn’t get the results, but at the last round it was nice to be able to put two motos in and show it wasn’t a fluke.  

Next season you have made the move to Husky to race mostly in the UK, what was behind the switch? 

The opportunity just came up and what they are doing for me and offering me, I couldn’t turn it down. The more time goes on, the more I see how much it’s suited towards me, it’s like a big family. Everyone is there for the same reason, enjoy it and do as best you can. That sort of feel is what I like around me, it’s a win-win for me, it’s a no brainer. I have been with Ricky and Norman now for 9 years on the bounce and two years previous to that on a 65, it’s been a long time and I have enjoyed it. I think now I have to move on, I have done as much as I think I can here and I feel I need to be in England to get where I want to be.  

Glenn McCormick will switch to Husqvarna for 2019 and be back for more AX action. Pic: J McCready

How much will you ride over the winter, when does your program for 2019 start? 

The season ran on a bit this year, it was end of October before it ended.  I will start riding again in December, so it will only be a month off the bike, it won’t be long coming around. And if I am doing Arenacross, I won’t have long to prepare but it is what it is and I have to get on with it. I know myself what I need to do and know my body, it’s just a matter of doing it and seeing what happens.  

I would just like to say a big thanks to Davy for being behind me the whole way and putting in so much work as this was tough season with it always being up against us, a lot of his own time was put into all and it was nice to reward with an Ulster championship! A big thank you to Norman and Ricky Watt for doing all they have done over the past eight years, I am forever grateful. A big thanks to Scott and Davey at Planet Advanced suspension, Stephen Agnew, Philip McCullough, Stevie Mills, Raymond Murphy at RGM vent, Mark Coulter at Impact physio therapy for the task of keeping my body healthy, Marty Nutt, Paul Irwin at RFX, Emma McQuaid for getting me in the best shape possible, Neil Henderson, SLR NI, Unique Fitout, all my friends and family and my second mummy who has shown me never to give up! 

Interview: Jonathan McCready Pics: Nigel McKinstry