Neesom’s aiming to move up a gear in 2014

James Neesom in action. Pictures by Jerry Roach.
James Neesom in action. Pictures by Jerry Roach.
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“Without a doubt, 2013 has been my best year by far. But, I don’t think it will be a patch on this year.”

That is the defiant message that upcoming local road racing sensation James Neesom is sending out to his rivals.

With the start of the season around the next corner, Neesom talked exclusively to The Scarborough News about his plans for this year and how it is all part of the road to racing at the famous TT races at the Isle of Man next year.

Having sold the Triumph Daytona 675 that saw him record his best race finishes and lap times so far, he will be taking to the starting grid on a 600 Kawasaki Ninja.

With his local club Auto 66, the engineer who grew up in Hunmanby, will be racing in the main meetings at Oliver’s Mount and travelling further afield to the Southern and Manx GP, also at the Isle of Man.

He is hoping, funds permitting, to take on some more Irish circuits and try his hand at some Thundersport rounds which are the class below British Superbikes.

He said: “If you look at the Manx GP, that is the stepping stone that everyone takes to the TT.

“The slowest lap I saw was in the region of 105mph.

“I could qualify for that because I did 111mph but I don’t want to go and just be at the back of the field.

“The 2005 record is 122mph. I want to go and beat that, but it is a massive, massive ask.

“But, if I could do that it will put me with the top boys when I go to the TT.”

Going to the TT is what Neesom has been working towards since he started racing in 2010.

His first race was on his 19th birthday at Cadwell Park, he won the 2011 Rookies with local club Auto 66 and gained a national road racing licence in 2012.

In 2013 he finished fourth at his first Irish road race, the Cookstown 100, and at four meetings at Scarborough’s Mount circuit he continued to get lap times down.

At the Steve Henshaw Gold Cup meeting in September, in horrendous weather conditions, he was on the starting grid with road racing legend Guy Martin and finished eighth.

The highlight of his racing career so far came at the Manx GP last August. He got a third place finishing behind racing outfits headed by established riders Martin Bullock and Ryan Farqhuar.

During the weekend his fastest time was a speed of 159mph as he flew through the Sulby speed trap.

More remarkable is that fact it was Neesom’s first race at the circuit, but he’d done his homework.

He said: “The hardest part was planning. I started in February and it took me five months. It is a lot of commitment but that is what I did most days.

“Someone gave me some papers and it listed every corner in order with a description.

“I kept reading it and split it into quarters and pieced it together in my head and when I drove round the track it clicked into place.

“Preparation is key and over the winter break he has been training hard with a mixture of gym work, cycling and dirt bike riding.

“I am building up my fitness and training every night. That plays a massive part this year.

“The sharper you are, the quicker your reactions and it all combines.”

Reactions and quick thinking at that speed are vital and Neesom admits he has come a cropper before but it is part of the game.

Neesom has grown up around motorcyles with his dad Tim and his granddad always having had bikes. He first went on a motorbike at the age of four. When he was 10 he got a dirt bike and at the age of 14 he decided he wanted to be a racer.

When he was 16 he got a road bike and within a year had swapped it for a sports bike, but admits he needed to channel the need for speed as he was in danger of doing himself a serious injury.

He decided to go on a track day and caught the racing bug, in what might have been the nick of time. Racing, he is the first to admit, is a dangerous sport but riding on a public road is worse.

Neesom recalls: “I came off a few times to be fair. A car pulled out on me and I went over the top of it. I wouldn’t like to say but I might not be here.

“You know when you are coming off the second you feel the bike go.

“It feels really slow but it isn’t. The dangers are always in the back of your mind but you just don’t think about it.

“I have seen people come off, breaking arms and legs.

“I have had broken wrists and chipped bones. Road racing is a fine line between life and death but it is a lot safer than riding on a public road.

“It is in a controlled environment whereas on a road anything can happen. People don’t think.”

As Neesom works his way towards his assault on the TT, as well as working hard on his fitness, he is also working hard to secure sponsorships to fund his racing career. The average race entry costs £300, a set of average tyres sets him back £300 then there are fuel costs on top of that.

He added: “It is a lot of commitment. It seems a bit selfish from the outside but I am in a position where I can do some good and now is my opportunity.

“I have no mortgage or kids - it is the time to go for it.”