Interview: Jason Meara gearing up for MXoN debut

Representing your country at the Motocross Des Nations is a dream come true for most riders and Jason Meara is set to experience that feeling for the first time this weekend in Assen represening team Ireland.

Meara has had a great season during his rookie year on the 450cc as he’s really gelled with the bigger bike and made it extremely difficult for team manager, Philip McCullough not to select him.

We caught up with Meara before the biggest race of his career this weekend.

Gatedrop: Jason, it’s few months ago now but when you got the phone call from Philip McCullough to tell you that you were on the team for Team Ireland, you might have been expecting it with your good form but how did it feel to be getting such good news?

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Jason Meara: I’ve been waiting on the phone call now for the past three or four years (laughs). So, it’s nice for the phone call to finally come my way. It’s been a few months now since I’ve found out but since I have, I’ve been pounding the laps down at Magilligan to try and get ready for the event.

Gatedrop: I mean at the end of last year, you broke your wrist really badly and even thought about quitting. When you reflect on your season and that you’ll be ending it by racing in Assen, it’s a great story!

Jason Meara: It’s crazy actually. I haven’t even really thought back this year I’ve been so busy but whenever you say that, it springs to mind. You know, the first round of the series I was going to the start line in the expert class (in the MX Nationals), not knowing if I was even going to score a point because my wrist was in that much pain. It was nice to show steady progress the whole way through and the aim was to hit form in around June time.

It worked out that way and as it happened I had one good ride at Desertmartin, which came at the right time to get the opportunity with Pheonix Tools. I sprung into life and had another good couple of rides after that and all of a sudden I’ve landed myself a deal for next year. It’s been a good story as you say.

Gatedrop: Just after getting selected for Ireland, you picked up an injury which meant you missed a round of the British Championship, what was the injury and are you close to being back to 100% yet?

Jason Meara: Basically I tore the tendon on the back of my shoulder blade and partially torn one in my arm.  As far as riding goes, I’m not in any pain or discomfort when I’m riding but at night time when I’m trying to sleep at the minute, I’m getting sore. But it’s no big deal, it’s just a matter of getting sorted out. I’ve been riding now six or seven weeks and was riding with the boys at Magilligan at the weekend and the pace was right up there so it’s nothing to worry about.

Gatedrop: In terms of Assen, I actually went to a GP there once with your brother Cailum, I don’t believe you’ve been there before but what are you expecting from the track?

Jason Meara: I’m expecting it to be completely different to anything I’ve ever ridden before. Anyone that I’ve spoken to has told me that so I’m going in with an open mind. It’ll be the same track for everyone and I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of riders there who haven’t rode it before. I’m going into it with an open mind and just hoping to get some good starts. We’re going to be on a fresh 2020 bike that’s brand spanking new. Hopefully we get good luck with the draw on Saturday and we can rip some starts, I’m sure we can hang it out there.

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Gatedrop: When you think about the event, are there any nerves there? It’ll be your first time doing the event and to think you’ll be on the same track as likes of Jeffrey Herlings, Jorge Prado just to name a few, it’s quite scary when you think about it!

Jason Meara: No, I wouldn’t say there’s any nerves, there’s plenty of excitement! I’m eager to get out there, obviously them guys are the best in the world but it’s going to be nice to compare the speed to see how far away we are. In terms of nerves, we are all human at the end of the day, I’m not going to worry too much about them.

Gatedrop: One thing I noticed this year, is when the track gets rougher you seem to excel. At the Ulster Championship at the start of the year Desertmartin got very rough and you seemed to get better and better so are you feeling confident you’ll be able to handle the bumps?

Jason Meara: I love it when the track gets rough. Rough and technical is my type of going. I always say I like a type of track where you don’t have to try hard to go fast on.  When it gets rough then that’s whenever my technique comes into play and I can start playing about with the bumps and carry momentum. That’s why I’m excited for Assen, it should be my type of going on paper but everyone says it’s different to what you think.

Pic: Nigel McKinstry

Gatedrop: In terms of preparation, I know you’ve been riding Magilligan quite a lot, how is that going and has the track been getting rough? Did you ever consider about spending some time in the Netherlands or Belgian sand before the event?

Jason Meara: Magilligan has been hit or miss whether or not it’s been levelled or not.  Some day’s it is rough and other days it’s not. He (Philip McCullough) knew that the whole team was coming down there the past couple of days. On Tuesday and Wednesday the three of us were down spinning laps and the track was super gnarly. It was about as gnarly as I’ve ever seen the place so it was good to get some training in. The three of us were doing 30 minutes plus two lap moto’s, everyone’s fitness is good, the speed is good and there’s a good vibe in the team too. Everything is looking really good for next weekend.

We won’t be riding before Assen at all when we get over there. Unfortunately with the way the schedule fell in the UK, we had our last British at the weekend there. The bikes are then being sent out and we don’t fly over until the Thursday morning. It’s too big a risk to ride too late in the week.

Gatedrop: As you mentioned you’ve been putting in the laps with Barr and Edmonds with a good atmosphere. Has that been good because all year you’ve been racing with them and trying to beat them – it’s been competitive! Is it nice now to maybe get some tips off them and have a good atmosphere?

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Jason Meara: As you say, we’ve been racing week in and week out. This year is probably the first year I’ve really got to know Martin (Barr) quite well. I’ve known Stuey (Edmonds) now for quite a few years and we all get on very well. The vibe in the team is brilliant and everyone is happy to help out if they see a line somewhere, they can point it out, even at the practice track. Everyone is sort of running a similar pace but race day is obviously going to be different than practicing but time will tell on that one.

Pic: Nigel McKinstry

Gatedrop: Obviously after you rode superb at your home round of the Maxxis British Championship and finishing third in the first moto, you got the call from Phoenix Tools Apico Kawasaki, how did it feel to finally secure a ride in the British paddock to show the rest of the UK what you can do?

Jason Meara: As you say, I had one good ride at Desertmartin and all of a sudden I got the phone call a couple of days later. Gert (Krestinov) got injured unfortunately but I picked up his ride as a fill in. I had a couple of good results then within the space of a few weeks. After the second moto at Hawkstone where I went down around the first corner and came back to eighth, that impressed the guys and they called me in straight after that and offered me the ride.

It’s comforting to know you have that place on the team for next year but it’s been a real eye opener as well. The hard work is only really starting now as far as training wise and riding wise goes. It’s starting to become more of a job now than a hobby and it is an eye opener, I’m not going to lie. It’s going to be tough but no one said it was going to be easy, I am looking forward to the challenge.

Gatedrop: Racing here at home you’re used to just driving a fan, having a privateer set up and having your family around you. What’s it been like with the team and under an awning etc?

Jason Meara: As far as that goes it’s not too dissimilar. You know, me and the girlfriend still travel to the races in the van anyway so that’s the same.  After I come in from the race, I go over to my own van and chill out for a bit. The guys give me a bit of time and then we go through everything after that.

Next year the plan is to move over to England and live in the UK sort of from March right through until the end of the season. I’m just going to live in the van and travel about and see if I can get through. I always said that I’d regret it if I didn’t do it so why not give it a shot?

Gatedrop: I believe after the MXoN you need to get surgery, can you tell me a bit about that and I’m sure you’ll be hoping to feel 100% physically in 2020 to show what you can really do now you’ve your rookie 450cc season under your belt..

Jason Meara: Well to be honest with you, there’s never a good time to get injured but if there ever was a good time to have one it was now. Basically I’m getting the tendon stitched back onto the bone and it’s going to be six-ten weeks recovery time. To be honest, I would take that sort of time off after a season anyway so I’m not too worried about that. I’ll hopefully hop back on the bike in December to do a bit of testing and then the hard work starts. I’ll be training anyway anyhow in the background but the hard work in terms of riding starts then after Christmas.

Gatedrop: Next year since you’ll be based in England, I assume you don’t intend on racing at home or maybe you’ll do a few at the start of the year?

Jason Meara: It’s sort of a case that the small wage I’m getting, if I lived at home, the money I’m making is going to be going towards cost of having to travel and that means I’ll have to work. If I live in England, the money I’m getting will be going into my pocket – I will live off it. That’s the plan anyway but if anyone wants to pay my boat home and diesel, then I’ll be there. It’s nothing to do with not wanting to ride over here because I like to support my home championships.

Interview: Andy McKinstry

Pics: Nigel McKinstry