Interview: Jason Meara on his strong start to the season – running at the front in England

Images: Nigel McKinstry | Interview: Andy McKinstry

One rider that has had a very strong start to the season is Jason Meara after finishing fourth overall at the first round of the MX1 British Championship. He raced in Scotland at the weekend and also ended up third overall despite a crash in each moto. The day after he made it to the Ulster Championship at Seaforde where he simply dominated as well.

We caught up with Meara to discuss his strong start to the season, plans for the rest of the season and more. You can listen, watch or read below:

GateDrop: We’re only at the start of the motocross season but it’s been the best start of your career so far probably, especially at the first round of the British Championship… Almost got a podium, fourth overall though, you must be delighted with how you started the season there…

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Meara: Yeah definitely, it’s been a great start to the season, actually. To be fair, I put in a bit of graft over the winter, I was out in Spain, and it was quite good but I wasn’t enjoying my bike. The new bike wasn’t great and then Davy Dickson built me a race engine and jumped in and placed it and it just clicked right away. I’m really happy with the bike and the results are coming with it. I don’t feel like I’m doing much different but the results are there, so we’ll take it.

GateDrop: I mean did you expect that at the first round of the British Championship? Usually you do Arenacross, you didn’t do that this year. Did that maybe help you over winter focusing on the motocross but even still fourth overall is pretty unbelievable, you’ve never really came close to being that good before so a bit of a surprise?

Meara: Yeah, a bit of a surprise but to be fair I always kind of believe in myself that I am capable of doing that. Some of the other riders, I look at them and I know that I’ve got more skills than them but I just haven’t been able to get out of the gate and put it together. So yeah, I’ve got a couple of good starts and put it together so I’m f**king proud of myself. To be fair, you know, I put a lot of my own money into it. I haven’t got much backing, I’ve got the help of MotoCycle, it’s just a small shop in England and they’ve been great. They do everything they can for me which I really appreciate. Other than that a few small sponsors in a very small circle but pretty big hearts we’ll say.

GateDrop: A lot of those riders, you know they’re full-time or you know they’re more or less full-time. You’re a tiler, you were back working on the Monday I’m assuming after the British and also you have to travel home to Northern Ireland, it’s not exactly easy so to do what you’re doing… it’s not easy.

Meara: Yeah, no that’s four weeks of racing on the bounce. That’s four boat trips which cost a lot of money. I don’t know how many thousand miles worth of diesel, entries and all the rest of it. As you can probably see the look of my face today, I’m pretty drained here at Seaforde which I’ve also come here today just you know for the fun… I don’t know why, but I’m here, I always enjoy the May day weekend. Seaforde is a good track and here we are.

Image: Nigel McKinstry

GateDrop:  Just on your winter prep I think you mentioned you went to Spain, what was it like out in Spain? Obviously Northern Ireland during the winter is a nightmare with crap weather conditions… Getting a good few weeks in Spain, did you ride with many top Spanish or GP riders out there and what was it like?

Meara: There wasn’t too many of the top kind of GP riders where we were to be fair but you know it’s a consistent riding and again Davy Dickson was out with us on the side of the track. You know, he was able to analyse the bike, he’s been about a long time and he’s fit to tell me what way the bike was working and stuff.  Probably in the last few years I haven’t really had that…

Just adjusting clickers as it suits and gear changes, stuff that I haven’t really been doing and it’s paid off. There was one when we did a road with Nils Bussot out there, I raced with him in Spain when I raced the Spanish championship in 2016. We met up with him actually, it was the last day and we had a really really good days riding together so yeah, it’s been good.

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Image: Nigel McKinstry

GateDrop: You made the switch to the 350cc last year, this is your second full season on it and you seem to love this bike… this is probably the best Jason Meara we have seen, what is it about the 350cc you love so much and are you surprised more riders from here don’t race it because nobody from here rides a 450cc to its full capability anyway…

Meara: I don’t think anyone in the world really does, to be fair. It’s just the 450cc is an animal and it was taking me for a ride. I was absolutely sick to the teeth of fighting the bike everywhere. You know, when I think back to my 250cc days I was always in control, I could put the bike where I wanted and stuff.

Jumping onto the 450cc, everyone said that my style would have suited the 450cc which in theory probably you would say yourself but no I really enjoy the 350cc. The power is more usable and again it feels a lot lighter even though it’s not much lighter, you know in weight terms it feels a lot lighter. I can put it where I want it.

GateDrop: Towards the end of last year, I would say you got quite a lot of confidence there racing the 2 day MXGP format at Matterley Basin and then obviously ending the year racing for your country at Ernee… just how was that few weeks for you living the life of a GP rider pretty much for those two weekends…

Meara: That was good. You know, when I was first asked did I want to do it, I felt I was not good enough… You know sometimes I need to remind myself that I’m probably better than I think and that’s kind of been a big thing the past couple of years too. Everyone that is helping me, believes in me and another person I have to give a shout out too is Philip McCullough.

There’s been many a time I’ve been down the hills and I’ve took the bike up to his and he’s dug me out of a hole. Anytime I want to ride the track he lets me out and things like that go a long way, you know. He always believed in me and he’s always saying skill wise as well that I’m one of the best that he’s ever seen in this country. It kind of means a lot too whenever you hear that, sometimes you just need to be reminded to get it in your own head.

GateDrop: Now you’ve got a fourth overall in a British championship, What are the expectations? Does that maybe change them slightly because you were so close to a podium, you probably think that’s possible now…

Meara: Nothing changes, no. To be fair, should I be first or last as long as I’m riding good and feel like I’m enjoying my riding, I’ll be happy.

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GateDrop: You are here at the Ulster Championship today racing at home. What is the situation like, not that many top riders do it anymore and I’m surprised you are here today especially after racing the Scotland yesterday.  It’s obviously great to see it but maybe something needs to be to get more of the top local riders racing at home…

Meara: Well, the first thing that I would say is the top riders aren’t treated with respect over here. You look at the Scottish Championship there for example. Yes, they’ve got money and yes they’ve got track prep but I went to Scotland this year with help with the entries and the guys didn’t even know who I was. I’ve come to Seaforde here today paid 40 pounds for an entry and asked for five pounds at the gate. It speaks for itself.

GateDrop: There definitely needs to be more of an effort made to get the best riders to race here at home, at least a free entry would be a good place to start…

Meara: Well, a free entry would be a start… It’s just, I don’t know, the whole thing is backwards over here. Everyone else is pushing on and we’re stuck behind…

GateDrop:  I was speaking to you at the end of last year and you said this year you were going to go all in and do what you can do with next year still up in the air but I feel like the way you’re racing in England if you can’t get a good ride for next year you’re probably never going to get one so fingers crossed… keep the good results and get a good ride and maybe you can do this full time in England or something…

Meara: Well, yeah, it would be nice, but you know a shout out to the MotoCycle ones. I’m still really happy with what they’re doing for me because I’ve got a bit of freedom. I can do my own thing what suits but yeah, the financial thing is getting tough. It’s draining me…

GateDrop: I asked you a few weeks ago about MXGP but you wanted to see what your speed is like first, we know now it’s good, so any plans to do any MXGP rounds this year?  

Meara: I haven’t really thought about it yet to be fair. It still feels like it’s really early in the season even though we’re now in the May. But, yeah probably in the next few weeks we might have a look and see if we want to do some. The one I’ve got my eye on is probably Lommel for the EMX Open championship. We might have a look at that one but we will have to see.