Interview: John Meara – Ulster and Irish MX1 champion!

After a couple of years of injury and frustration, John Meara came back to his best form in 2019 to win the Irish and Ulster MX1 championships, as well as show some good speed in England in the second half of the season. 

The eldest of the Meara brothers got through the sand races at the beginning of the year safe, then really upped the level when he hit his favored hard-pack circuits mid-season to really make his presence felt in the series and ultimately take home both championships.  

We caught up with John at the end of what ended up being a tough day at the final round of the Ulster championship at Desertmartin despite going quickest in practice and winning race one, but we found out, with the championship won, he already has quickly turned his thoughts and ambitions to the 2020 season. 

You knew you were pretty much champion before you came here but you still rode hard in all three race – but the luck didn’t go your way today! 

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Typical Desertmartin luck for me! In fairness I was fastest in Superpole and won the first race, second race I crashed in the second turn and got back to second then the last race I got passed for the lead, got back on the leader’s rear wheel and then got a front wheel puncture. I just couldn’t steer out there, it just wasn’t safe so I called it a day. 

The track here was pretty difficult with long ruts, pretty different to what you all have been used in the last few months, how was it to adapt? 

Very tough, it’s no secret sand isn’t my strong point so the long ruts they were very soft and very sticky, yeah it was definitely a very, very difficult day. Hopefully I can come out a new man next year, me and Jason plan on doing a lot of sand riding together and hopefully learn off him a few sand techniques and improve my sand riding!” 

Meara holeshot Pic: J McCready

Overall it has been a great year for you, an Irish and Ulster title after a couple of bad years with injury, this year staying fit and coming away with two titles to your name, you must be over the moon. 

Yeah it was definitely very good. The last championship I won was 2016, so it’s nice to get the double again this year it definitely wasn’t easy, a lot of money and hard work went into it. I’ve left myself broke now but sure, at least I’ve two titles for it! 

Next year are you planning to stay local or go more to England with Jason? 

There will be a lot more riding happening in England next year, the full Maxxis British series the full MX Nationals are the plan of attack then just do whatever races fit in, I probably won’t be competing in every championship over here, you will just see me now and again but hopefully it will be a good year next year too. 

You are at the level where you should be getting money but this sport is that small you aren’t really, so how do you juggle work and trying to do this and compete with guy in England that are professional? 

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To be honest it’s impossible, to do a five-day week in work then go over to England and go against guys that are doing it for a living, it’s impossible. All you can do it give it your best shot, coming home from work, going training, also before you go to work some mornings training as well, trying to get out one evening on the bike, it’s tough. It’s very time consuming and hard on the pocket but sure, it’s all we know! 

Meara Pic: J McCready

Jason (Meara) has a ride in England now, did his results help give you confidence because you have always been quick in your own right as well? 

I’ve always had the self-belief in myself, I’ve just never had the break. Every time the ball starts rolling in my direction, something always happens, small injuries or injured for the year. But this year I kind of took the approach to go a bit slower to go faster and that seemed to work. The pace at the end of the year wasn’t too far away, and in England I also had some pretty good results. So hopefully a good solid winter and then next year I can come out swinging again. 

And next year, will you be Kawasaki again, KTM, do you know yet? 

100% Kawasaki again and still working with Norman Watt motorcycles. Ricky (Watt) is giving me a hand next year again, there are also a couple of other people coming on board so, hopefully it will be a wee bit easier on my pocket next year and we can get some good results for everyone involved.  

Do you find winning helps get you sponsors or is it still hard to attract sponsors even at your level of racing? 

Over here it is very, very hard to attract sponsors, I don’t know why. The financial aspect of things, people don’t want to be giving their own money out. In England it always seems to be easier to get a bit more help and fingers crossed we can attract a couple of decent sponsors in next year.