Jeremy McWilliams Interview
With Mark Bracks
This year’s InterFOS was Jeremy McWilliams’ fourth time at the event. The Northern Irishman is a regular visitor to Australia with many outings at Phillip Island to add to his Aussie resume and is a major part of Team Winfield Classic Racing.
Of all the racing he has done “JezMac” had no hesitation in describing the conditions at Eastern Creek as the worst he has ever experienced.
For all the standing water and persistent rain, the riders wanted to go out and hoped against hope that the rain would ease. The race programme was even altered pushing the QBE TT Cup race back in the hope it would clear.
It didn’t stop McWilliams going out to judge the conditions for himself and inform his Team Winfield Classic Racing team mates that it was no-go.
The deluge and disappointment at the cancellation of the racing hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm for the event, plus he seems to have the time of his life when he is here. But that’s another story!
Bracksy: So how was the event this year?
Jeremy McWilliams: “Racing on Saturday was awesome, just unbelievable, one of the best dry races I think in memory, I went quicker than I’ve ever gone around Eastern Creek. I don’t know, maybe quicker that I did on a GP bike back in the ‘90s. Aaron (Morris) was just, he just tromped the lot of us. He went into the 33’s, I was somewhere mid 34s. I enjoyed the race because I led more of the way, and he was struggling to get through, until he found a way.
“Then the wet race went in my favour, I got a jump on him at the start of the race, and he was never able to close the gap. So it was nice to give him something back, because he’s been unbeatable here. And then on even points, we both had a small mechanical.
“A gear-shifter came loose [on mine] and I wasn’t able to shift, so I would have been over-revving had I stayed out. On hingsight had I stayed out I would have scored points, but you have to look after these little things [the bike]. We came on Sunday really looking forward to a battle, because our non-finishes had mixed everything up, and put us on the back foot.
“So both of us had to go out and dominate if we wanted to have any chance of getting near the front again. I think he was up four, and then the rain kinda just put paid to that. I said to Hamish and those guys, I would have stayed back here until 7-8 at night if I thought it was going to dry out, just to get a chance to race like we did on Saturday.
“The best racing I can remember around here. I mean it’s far more even this year, having the air-cooleds in the same class. Had Aaron brought his FZR that he did last year, I think he got down to the ‘32s, remarkable on a bike that makes 145-150hp. So it’s not really matched to the old air-cooled beasts, and he was able to jump on that Katana and wring its bloody neck. He’s one of the few riders that can ride modern and classic stuff, and ride it at exactly the same level. I have a lot of respect for the guy, lovely kid, he kind of deserves to be in ASBK in all honesty.”
Bracksy: He does, just the dreaded money. When you went out in those conditions, it was really stuffed wasn’t it?
Jeremy McWilliams: “Well on Sunday, the Clerk of the Course pulled it back a little, it was the right choice, in case it started to clear up, unfortunately it didn’t, it kinda got worse. Because you guys haven’t had any rain for so long, it was just rolling across the top of the clay and straight onto the track. We had rivers, we had to paddle through rivers, and hidden behind another bike you were getting a wash over the screen.
“That wasn’t the danger, the danger was that if you touched it with any lean angle you got a two wheeled drift, aqua-planing everywhere. The worry was that if you did lose it here [pointing to Turn One], you’d have slid so far it would have been a big problem. A big pile of shit at the end of the drag strip.
“But I went out and had a look at it, it was more like parading around, it wasn’t a spectacle. You just felt so on-edge, if you made the least little mistake… The guys in that Top 50 had feet down around turn 10, with two-wheel drifts. So I don’t think I’ve ridden in anything as bad. It was the worst I have experienced with the amount of water. Deep puddles everywhere. It was the right call at the end of the day. Gotta have the bikes in one piece, they have to go to the TT, and hopefully they’ve gotta come back here in the future as well.”
Bracksy: I hope you do come back mate!
Jeremy McWilliams: “I really loved it, fair play, with Paul Bryne, Aaron, and all of our guys were all giving it everything they had. It’s a bloody good event.”