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Sean Neary speaks to Two Wheels or More ahead of the 2019 Ducati Cup season

Tony Jacklin speaks to Ducati Cup racer Sean Neary in this interview for Two Wheels or More.

Sean Neary is a front runner in the Ducati Tri-Options Cup series, a very competitive and popular support class to the British Superbike Championship. The series attracts some very accomplished riders, including younger riders wishing to make a name for themselves before progressing on to other Championships. Sean has been at the sharp end for the last seven seasons which shows how good he is, having raced with and beaten riders such as Levi Day, Joe Collier, Josh Wainwright and even reigning Champion Rob Guiver! His best Championship position has been 2nd overall and must start as one of the favourites to take the title in 2019. He has a new team this year which should take the pressure off him a bit so he can concentrate on racing Instead of managing the team.

Tony Jacklin: Hi Sean, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to me. How did you get started in motorcycle racing?

Sean Neary: I raced in the JRA championship when I was 13 and then did a year in the Superteen series. It was won by a certain Cal Crutchlow that year! Unfortunately we didn’t have the funds to carry on so I was out of racing for 9 years. I still had a burning desire to get back racing but it’s not that simple when you don’t have the money. I joined up with the Wirral 100 club about 8 years ago and started racing on a 600.

TJ: Who has been the biggest influence in your racing career so far?

SN: There are many to be fair but I would have to say my Uncle Stu. I used to go watching him racing from the age of 6 and that’s where I got the bug from. My parents aren’t really into racing so it was him that took me racing in the early days. In the later years Matthew Sanders (Sponsor) has been an unbelievable influence in putting us in a position to challenge.

TJ: When I was younger my racing hero, like many others was Barry Sheene, did you have any race heroes you used to look up to as a kid?

SN: I was a big Chris Walker fan growing up watching BSB in the 1990's. I loved his all action style and determination. On the world stage it has to be Rossi, what a legend.

TJ: What other race series have you been in other than the Ducati Cup?

SN: I raced with the Wirral 100 club and did a couple of wildcards in Superstock 600. I crashed twice in one weekend at my first BSB weekend at Brands and then followed it up by knocking myself out at Oulton Park! Effort and commitment was always 100% however lacking a bit of finesse!

TJ: Finishing third overall in a British Championship series is a massive achievement to most people, so how did you feel the 2018 season went for you?

SN: It’s no secret I wanted to win so it’s always a bit disappointing when you don’t. The first half of the year went really well and we went into the Snetterton round with the championship lead. Unfortunately that weekend went completely pear shaped after qualifying on pole. The bike felt like it was getting slower all weekend before an engine failure in the second race. Rob did the double which then put him in the driving seat. After that in all fairness Rob was faultless.

TJ: On paper, 2016 has been your best season so far with 2nd in the championship. Do you consider that to be your best year so far?

SN: Yes it would be really. It’s the year I won my first races and consistently established myself as a challenger. The 899 was setup absolutely perfectly that year and it really suited my style. We’ve not quite got that feeling with the 959 yet but hopefully we will crack that this year.

TJ: Taking Assen out of the equation, do you have a favourite circuit?

SN: Yes, it has to be Oulton Park. It’s like a rollercoaster ride and I can’t help but smile as you ride it. Thruxton would be a close second though, that place is awesome!

TJ: I read a lot about riders fitness and diet programmes, is there any special diet and fitness regime you follow?

SN: I take my fitness seriously. Probably to the extreme but you only get one chance at life so I want to be the best I can be. I usually train 6 days a week, a cross between circuit training, running and football.
I’ve been training with Adam Jenkinson this pre-season which has been great. He’s raced at a high level so he knows what it takes. Plus he’s one of the most determined people I know so he pushes me hard. I try to watch what I eat as I’m pretty heavy due to my height and size! Being fit isn’t going to win you a race alone but being unfit will certainly cost you.

TJ: I see you are no longer racing under the Zoek Race Team banner, is this a new team?

SN: It probably looks from the outside that I keep pissing sponsors off as it keeps changing but it’s actually the same sponsor! Matthew is the Owner of Suits Me Card as well as Zoek. Previously he backed me with Mymate and Paraplus.

TJ: What is the structure of the new team, is it the same personnel as you had last season?

SN: It’s changed from last year but still many of the same guys are involved. Charlie and Lisa who used to own the Downshift Motorsport Team (James East & Dan Hegarty) have taken over the running of the team to take it away from me. They have the experience and knowledge and so far it’s been amazing! I’m usually running around like a mad man this time of year but I’ve just been concentrating on training and working. We have Lee Jackson senior (Uncle Lee) working with the team again and he will also be joining us for testing which is a major benefit for me. He’s a good guy and seriously knowledgeable. Having Craig (Currie)as a teammate is absolutely perfect as well. There are no egos in the awning just proper decent people and we have a great laugh.

TJ: Have you got any testing planned, other than the official Silverstone one at the end of March?

SN: We are heading out to Monteblanco on 28th March so we will actually miss the Silverstone test. The first BSB test is usually freezing cold so knowing my luck it will be red hot this year!

TJ: I hope it will be hot as I'm going to that one and the Superbike test on April 9th! Rob Guiver was quite dominant last season, in my recent interview with Rob, he sees you as his main threat this season. That's quite a compliment, do you see him as your main rival too and are there any others you will be looking out for?

SN: I’m not just saying it because he won the title last year but I always say to the team that he will be the one to beat. He was neck and neck with Collier before his injury in 2017 so he’s just had a lot of bad luck previously. To come back from the injuries he had in 2017 is unreal really, it shows the measure of a man to come back from that. He’s a proper sportsman in victory or defeat and I respect that a lot. Leon Morris was similar in 2016. There are always new riders that come into the series as well so there will be new challengers. I think many people that enter the series underestimate how competitive it actually is. I’m not for one minute saying I’m Valentino Rossi but I believe in myself and I’m not scared of anyone.

TJ: What's your future plans, where would you like to be in say two years time?

SN: I would absolutely love to have a go at stock 1000 but you need to find serious cash for that as they eat tyres for fun! There is no point in going there unless you have a good package as it’s so competitive but if the circumstances were right I would absolutely love that.

TJ: Thank you for your time Sean, I look forward to reporting on the Ducati Tri-Options Cup series again this year, the series is looking just as competitive as last year, roll on Silverstone race weekend!

SN: Thank you Tony and it goes without saying that I couldn’t do it without our sponsors so a massive thanks to them too.

Words: Tony Jacklin for Two Wheels or More