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Title: Jeremy McWilliams “It gets a little bit serious as you know anytime you put a bunch of us together on track”

Author: Sienna Wedes

The QBE International Festival of Speed is an opportunity for the legends and fans to interact and to see what makes these riders such icons in motorsport history. Jeremy McWilliams carries various years of experience under his belt, which enables him to be an asset to manufactures and riders today. At The QBE International Festival of Speed Jeremy McWilliams discussed his love of attending the event, his favourite circuits and memories from his career and the demands of staying in top shape at age 52.

Q: How do you feel being here in Australia for the International Festival of Speed?  

Jeremy McWilliams: It’s a lot of fun or we wouldn’t do it I suppose. It’s a chance to meet up with past competitors, friends and people that we have met over the last couple of years at events like this. Brings us all together and really we come here to have a bit of fun and a bit of a laugh. It gets a little bit serious as you know anytime you put a bunch of us together on track, there is a lot of stick when you want to at least do as much as you can on track to stay up near the front and not get dropped off the back. Even though it starts as a parade race it ends up as a full on blown race *laughs*. It’s a lot of fun, a lot of fun doing it, it’s a lot of fun getting to ride these very special machinery and I really would never imagine I would be riding an ex Schwantz Factory Suzuki which I managed to do now. I’ve wrangled it 2 years now, so a lot of fun doing that and even just to hear the sound of two strokes in a start finish straight like this must be pretty spectacular. I’d like to actually just be standing here listening to it go past. It’s a lot of fun.

Q: What has the support been like from home back in Belfast throughout your career?

Jeremy McWilliams: I’m pretty busy like most of us. Since finishing racing we seemed to have all found a little area to work in within the sport, which is obviously ideal for us. It means we don’t really have to go and do a proper job. We can manage to keep doing what we love and what is close to our hearts. I can’t squeeze in as many of these events as I’d like to, I do get invited to some and the main ones that I take part in are obviously this, the Goodwood Revival in September which is a very special event and the Phillip Island International Classic, so I really only get about 3 or 4 events per year. The organsiers are great, they are very helpful in trying to accommodate and get us all together and make it as easy as possible. I have to thanks Peter and Janet for all the effort they’ve done, they have been pushing very hard right from the beginning of the year to make sure we are all here. Thankfully we are able to be here and didn’t let anybody down.

Q: Do you have a favorite circuit from your years of racing?  

Jeremy McWilliams: I think it changes every year when you have a great memory or a great result. That kind of sticks in your mind and becomes a special place. This was the first circuit that I actually ever rode a MotoGP; well it was a GP500 bike then. I was a fish out of water coming over here, I’d never been to Australia in my life and the first time I arrived here I was tasked with riding a 500 around Eastern Creek so I didn’t do very well and it took me a while to get up to speed and fit in with the bike and the new challenge. This has a special memory because of that and then I guess Mugello, riding for Aprilia when I was a Factory Aprilia rider was special for me because Mugello was our test track and it was and still is a very spectacular circuit with hundreds of thousands of people that turn up on the Sunday and make an incredible racket around the whole circuit. It’s a bit of an amphitheater circuit so you can actually hear the crowd and finishing 3rd there on the podium, that kind of helped me remember that one as a special place too.

That’s something that over the years, you get better at because you spend more and more time at circuits and working with riders or coaching. I had the opportunity to do this with certain track companies, helping my organisation at home the MCI at the very beginning when I was still racing with tutoring and schooling young riders coming into the sport back home. Then I’ve been able to impart that knowledge later as I am now with riders such as Jack Kennedy, Jed Metcher one of your own, John McPhee in Moto3 and working with Dorna and the British Talent Team is certainly a big honour for me. To be involved in that this year and next year we will work only British Talent Cup, putting together the riders for that. I’m running them within the British Championship so, lots of interesting times ahead and I guess it’s lovely to see if a rider gets something out of it. Obviously if he doesn’t get something out of it you are doing something wrong. I can see that we get results from it and I hope they would say the same *laughs*. There is a great job satisfaction there if you can do something well. I think that is something that really drives me.

Q: With the demands of riding a motorcycle, how have you stayed fit over the years to put you in a position now to do what you do?  

Jeremy McWilliams: Sometimes I wonder you know should I still be doing this at my age because it is so physically demanding. But, there is also an element of I guess the challenge. It’s lovely to be able to put yourself up to the challenge and then carry it out. I guess if I couldn’t see it through then I wouldn’t be doing it. To do that, I spend some time cycling, I ride lots and lots of motorbikes and am very very lucky to test and develop with manufacturers. I believe I have become kind of bike fit. Which if you put me in some other sport I would struggle at but whatever it is about the muscles and I guess the brain power you have to use, I can do that pretty well in just one thing and it’s on a motorcycle. You do have to spend a little bit of time behind the scenes, making sure that you can come back and keep doing that. There is a motivation there for me to keep doing that because if I wasn’t able to come and take part in an event like this and actually race in the challenge class as well, the top 50 then I guess I probably wouldn’t enjoy it just as much because I do enjoy the participation. I love standing on podiums *laughs*.

Credit: Deborah Wedes

Credit: Deborah Wedes

Credit: Deborah Wedes

Credit: Deborah Wedes