Ulster aces Meara and Belton aim to sparkle
Two local racers will be in the thick of the action as Belfast's SSE Arena is turned into a natural home for motocross.
The 2018 Power Maxed Arena-cross Tour arrives tomorrow and Saturday, giving Jason Meara and Jack Belton a chance to show off their skills in front of friends and family.
The more experienced Meara says he is gunning for success while Belton will make his Arenacross bow, fired on by a recent family struggle.
Belton (14) from Donaghadee, makes his debut in the arena as a wild card rider. A fan of Arenacross, Jack entered the 2018 tour thanks to his uncle, Jeff Wright, who was a former racer.
Jeff has mentored Jack but, in only his late forties, was recently diagnosed with Motor Neurone disease. Jack says this has given him further reason to compete, in order to make his uncle proud by "doing something really big."
Jack's racing-mad uncle and grandfather will be supporting him from the pits this weekend.
Tiler by day and racer by night, Meara has burst onto the Arenacross scene since his debut in January of last year.
The 20-year-old Loughbrickland rider showed up to the opening round of the 2017 tour without a crew. His lack of mentoring and assistance from the pits wasn't a natural set-up for success but he managed to recover from a massive fall in Birmingham a week before last year's Belfast event to finish fourth at the SSE.
"Getting fourth overall in the 2017 championship was okay, but I'm returning to Arenacross this year with one focus and that's to win the Pro Lites class," he said.
His display last year attracted attention from professional team Fly JK Yamaha who quickly signed him up. From there, he contested the full series and soon earned the respect of the crowds thanks to his gutsy style of racing.
Spectators at the SSE Arena will enjoy a pre-show filled with music, lights and fireworks, prior to a ceremonial presentation of the riders. Then it's straight into the main event with invigorating, fast-paced indoor race action "where anything goes", according to the organisers.
The classes cater for mini-racers from the age of seven years on 65cc bikes, Superminis 10 to 15, Pro Lites 15 to 23 and then Pros - professional motocross racers from around the globe.
French, Italian, German, Russian, Dutch, Finnish, Australian and, of course, British riders will all be on display, as will three sets of high-flying Freestyle motocross shows.
Brits Dan Whitby, Arran Powley, Samson Eaton and Nez Parker have honed their considerable FMX skills for Belfast while the self-appointed Spanish 'Daddy of FMX', Edgar Torronteras, can't wait to get back to the SSE Arena alongside new man on the block, Australian Ryan Brown.
There are a range of tickets now on sale, with prices from £17. Visit www.arenacrossuk.com or call the SSE Arena Box Office on 028 9073 9074.