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Ex-Grand Prix winner Jeremy McWilliams preparing to make NW200 debut

'I'm like a lot of riders in that I wear my heart on my sleeve and when you lose a couple of mates and it's pretty raw, then you do tend to criticise in frustration' - Jeremy McWilliams
Once a staunch critic of road racing, former Grand Prix winner Jeremy McWilliams is preparing to make his competitive debut at the Relentless International North West 200 this week.

The highly experienced veteran racer joined former Isle of Man TT great Steve Hislop by calling for road racing to be banned following the high-profile deaths of Ulster bike legend Joey Dunlop and top competitors Gary Dynes and Andrew McLean during a bleak period in 2000.

At the time both McWilliams and Hislop were adamant road racing should be consigned to the history books to prevent further loss of life, with the Northern Ireland ace saying he was 'never interested in road racing and the risks that go with it', before adding: 'I would never go near one of these road race tracks... not the North West 200, not the TT or any of the country races'.

Twelve years on and McWilliams is set to compete at the famous international North West 200 for the first time in the newly introduced Supertwin 650 class, which will be held as part of a revamped schedule on Thursday evening along with the first Superstock race.

It won't be his first taste of road racing, with the 48-year-old a previous winner at Macau in the Far East in the past.

But given McWilliams' previous opposition to road racing, confirmation that he would take on the challenges of the 8.9-mile 'Triangle' circuit on the North Coast for the first time this year was met with surprise in some quarters.

However, McWilliams says a greater emphasis on safety within the sport plus a genuine desire to experience the event has led to his change of heart.

“There is no underlying reason why I decided to race at the North West 200 other than I really want to sample it and see what it's like,” he said.

“I've been going there since I was 12 or 13. I'm like a lot of riders in that I wear my heart on my sleeve and when you lose a couple of mates and it's pretty raw, then you do tend to criticise in frustration.

“Each of the times it happened [fatal crash], it happened on circuits I would never really consider riding on anyway.

"There are some road races that will always be on our calendar I hope for the good of the sport and the North West 200 is at the top of that tradition as are the Ulster Grand Prix and the TT.

“I've said that in the past [road racing should be banned] and I've told you why,” added McWilliams.




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Jeremy McWilliams and Chuck Aksland, Barcelona IRTA MotoGP Test March 2005
Michael Rutter celebrates winning the 350cc Classic TT
Michael Dunlop, Bruce Anstey and Ryan Farquhar were the top three in the Formula 1 race at the Classic TT
Dan Cooper and Michael Rutter in the 350cc Classic TT
Michael Dunlop won the Formula 1 Classic TT on the Team Classic Suzuki
Michael Rutter on the Ripley Land Racing Honda at the Classic TT
Michael Rutter on the Ripley Land Honda
Michael Dunlop and Michael Rutter at the Classic TT
Dean Harrison on the Black Eagle MV Agusta at the Classic TT
Peter Hickman on the Mistral Kawasaki at the Classic TT
Dean Harrison on the Steelcote Solutions Kawasaki at the Classic TT
Trevor Nation and Steve Spray on the JPS Rotary Nortons.
Picture courtesy of Motorcycle News
Lee Johnston on the Black Eagle Racing MV Agusta
Michael Dunlop on the Team Classic Suzuki at the Classic TT
John McGuinness on the Winfield Paton at the Classic TT
Dennis Hoffer at the Manx Grand Prix
Newcomers prepare to leave the line at the Manx Grand Prix
Ian Lougher on the Winfield Paton at the Classic TT

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Hometown hero - Unregistered

May 14, 2012 1:20 AM

Would love to see him do well, even win! Some of the pure road racing "snobs" who look down their noses at a mere circuit racer like Jeremy would be forced to eat their words. Happily however they are also few and far between and I think he'll be exceptional well received around the circuit.



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