Belfast Telegraph

Jeremy McWilliams makes a Grand return to the track

Grand old man: They say life begins at 40 but perhaps 50 is more apt for Jeremy McWilliams as he marks his half century with a return to Moto GP action
Grand old man: They say life begins at 40 but perhaps 50 is more apt for Jeremy McWilliams as he marks his half century with a return to Moto GP action

By Paul Lindsay

Jeremy McWilliams makes a return to Grand Prix racing this weekend at Silverstone at the grand old age of 50, but says he's as motivated as ever to get in amongst the Moto2 action aboard the innovative carbon monocoque framed Brough Superior.

Speaking from his home on the outskirts of Glengormley, the former Dutch 250cc GP winner relates: "My phone has been red hot and I'd say this has generated more worldwide media attention than my win at Assen in 2001."

His old friend and former GP rival John Hopkins asked during Monday's British Superbike round at Cadwell Park: "How long is that old biker going to race... when is he ever going to stop?"

McWilliams laughed it off, explaining his decision to return to the GP paddock, even though, when the phone call came from IRTA boss Mike Trimby he believed he was being asked to nominate one of his current crop of protégés.

"Mike rang me to say the team might not make the grid at Silverstone unless they had a nominated rider. At that point I was expecting him to ask me to put forward one of the riders I have been working with in World Superstock. But he said, 'no, no I mean you!'" exclaimed McWilliams, who kept his own stock high recently by taking the XR1200 Harley Davison class win at Indianapolis at the start of August.

Explaining the deal he added: "Mike Trimby said, 'they need you to ride the bike, and the team were pretty excited when your name was mentioned', so the next thing I knew I was testing the bike at Mallory Park." McWilliams was pleasantly impressed with his first run out a machine that borrows it's name from the original Brough Superior – dubbed the Rolls Royce of motorcycles back in the early 1900s.

Speaking of the intricately designed Moto2 machine that was first unveiled by American TV celebrity Jay Leno in Los Angeles last year, McWilliams said: "Mallory wasn't exactly ideal to try and replicate a grand prix circuit, and it was a difficult couple of days trying to make a decision whether I wanted to go ahead and make something of it.

"The combination of carbon monocoque chassis with wishbone front end and telescopic forks is something I'd never ridden before, but it really grabbed my attention and I suppose I wanted to see if there was anything there."

Looking ahead to this weekend's Grand Prix race at Silverstone he added: "There's no massive expectation at this point in time, as it's a new project but I will go and give it 100 per cent. My intention is not to go there testing – I want to get it somewhere on the grid and get the bike to the end of the race competitively. That would give me great pleasure."

Fifty years young McWilliams may be, but retired he certainly is not, with a diary that is bursting at the seams. Having worked on a filmset with Scarlett Johannson, won the aforementioned AMA XR1200 Harley race in the States earlier this month, been competitive and victorious in recent seasons at the North West 200 – which was another career box ticked – and currently managing a raft of talent in World Superstock, I asked where he gets time to relax?

"I'm still doing a little bit with KTM on top of all the other bits and pieces. I did a couple of German Championship endurance races with them on the 1290 Super Duke R that I helped develop. And I have a Jeremy McWilliams' Race School event coming up on September 28 along with Phillip McCallen at Bishopscourt. So there's not much time for anything else at the minute."

Belfast Telegraph


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