Reigning Irish MX champ Jason Meara is raring to get out and give it his all this weekend at rounds four and five of the Arenacross championship in Belfast – his home city. But, it could all have been so very different …
Amazingly, the 19-year-old from Loughbrickland walked away from a massive crash while battling at the front with AX Pro Lites champ Joe Clayton. “Joe made an inside pass which threw me off course a little. I went for it though and tried to hit the triple to get ahead, unfortunately, I ended up going over the bars,” said a bemused Meara. “I was a little fragile the next day, but everything’s good and I can’t wait to get out in front of the crowd at Belfast. It’s going to be mega!”
Despite a DNF in Birmingham, Meara still holds a solid fifth position in the Pro Lites championship standings. It’s pretty much a safe bet that, when Irish MX2 champ Jason Meara lines up for the fourth and fifth rounds of the 2017 Arenacross Tour this Friday and Saturday, the 27th and 28th of January at the capital city’s SSE Arena, he’ll have the full support of a partisan crowd behind him.
Contesting the 2017 AX series has been something of a sharp learning curve for the unassuming 19-year-old. He had never competed indoors before he turned up for the opening round of the series at Manchester on the 7th of January. He simply turned up, signed on and rode his bike as if he was riding in his more customary outdoor championships. With no crew and no-one to mentor him in the world of indoor motocross racing, he kept his motocross suspension settings and in his words; “it was a bit sketchy, but I still finished fourth, so it can’t have been that bad …”
Not bad at all really, as one of the leading teams in the AX paddock – Team RFX St Blazey MX – soon spotted his potential. When they had a spare ride in the Pro Lites category, they were quick to sign up the lad from Loughbrickland to represent them in the 15-to-23-year semi-pro category.
Meara, who comes from an enthusiastic and committed family of motocross racers, had something of a close shave last weekend at the Tour’s third round in Birmingham. Whilst battling at the front, reigning Pro Lites champion Joe Clayton made an inside pass and, rather than give in, the Irish champ decided to try and hit a triple jump to keep ahead, unfortunately, it didn’t work in his favour and he went over the handlebars, which put paid to the rest of his race. Although a little fragile, he walked away and still holds a solid fifth in the championship; “everything’s good, and I’m raring to go this weekend,” said Meara.
Meara senior used to race, and now a quartet of Meara brothers are out flying the family flag. Together with his elder brother John, Jason made history last year when the siblings were simultaneously leading the MX1 and MX2 classes of both the Ulster and Irish motocross championships, the first time two brothers had done so on the island – it’s clear to see that racing is in this boy’s blood.
The RFX St Blazey Arenacross team has fielded Suzuki machinery so far this series but Meara will stick with the KTM250 his is familiar with. “There’s enough for me to get to grips with as it is,” said Meara, “and I mean that quite literally!”
When questioned about his ‘promotion’ and contesting the British Arenacross series, he added; “It’s been a massive boost, not just to get the recognition from one of the top teams but to be a part of a great crew who all work together. Everyone pulls their weight. The team’s Pro riders are indoor racing specialists Cedric Soubeyras from France and Italian Angelo Pellegrini. They’ve been really helpful and, of course, with an Irish boy in the mix; we’re truly international and I get to wear the same kit so I even look the part!”
Talking about his home round at Belfast, Meara added; “Obviously, I’m most looking forward to getting out in the arena at Belfast as I’ll have lots of family and friends there. I try to improve every week and the best way I can thank everyone for their support is to get on the podium, so that’s my aim.”
Such is the popularity of Arenacross in Belfast that it is the only leg of the 2017 Tour to be a double-header. The promoter concedes that the Belfast crowd is the one everyone wants to perform in front of, thanks to their enthusiasm and love of motorsport. Doors open at 6.30pm, with the evening performance getting into full swing at 7.30pm this Friday, the 27th, and again on Saturday the 28th of January at The SSE Arena, Belfast.