Get to know the 2020/21 Seagulls. On two minutes with James Jessop – riding for The Eastbourne Seagulls Powered by Save Thurrock Hammers speedway in the MSDL league.
1: What is your favourite track (and why?)
To ride its Swindon. I’ve only been twice but loved it. It is a great shape, prepared well. It’s also nostalgic for me because it was the first track I watched live Speedway at.
2: Who is your favourite rider (and why?)
Jason Crump is my favourite of all time. I’m a Belle Vue fan when I’m not riding, and he was our big hitter when I started watching speedway. I also like Zagar and probably a bit controversial for an Eastbourne rider to say, but Cookie too. I like Smolinski too.
3: What is the best thing about being a speedway rider?
I love the traveling! A lot of people moan about it but I like it. Plus I’m a very competitive guy so I love the competition. When it’s going well, I feel like a superstar but I can be pretty moody when it’s not.
4: What is the worst thing about being a speedway rider?
I can’t remember the last time I had a lot of money. At this level, the outgoings are significantly more than what comes in. And what does come in 9/10 goes back into the bike/equipment or travel.
5. Inside on the white line or hugging the fence?
I would love to say I blast around the fence but I’m an inside line rider. Riding wide is something I need to work on. But I am pretty confident with my cut back ability, especially on the first turn.
6: Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Don’t listen to everyone. Everyone thinks they are a pro and have the secret and what’s best for you. They probably have what is best for them, no doubt. But if you have 10 people in your ear, its unlikely they are all saying the same thing. So now I know who I trust when I need a hand and I’ve also picked up enough now that I’m able to test and make progress/discoveries using previous experience, whereas when I just started and was clueless. It gets confusing.
7: Pre-meeting ritual?
I like to turn up early. I enjoy watching the atmosphere in the pits/stands build. I’ll walk the track, sometimes more than once. I don’t really have any lucky omens (maybe it’s where I’ve gone wrong!) But I’ll just study the programme, read it, talk to my team mates, interact with any fans and then get changed.
8: Biggest achievement of your career so far?
In my first year on a bike in 2017 I won the southern track riders series championship (Novice class) which led to my SDL debut with Weymouth down at Plymouth (a 7 hour drive for 2 rides cause it was abandoned). I never won an individual round that series. To this day, I have never won an individual meeting. I did also win the pairs that season to make it a double on my first season.
9: What are your aims and aspirations for the next few seasons?
To keep getting quicker and be the best I can. 2018, my 2nd season was rough as I thought it would be easy to just slot into the MDL/SDL. 2019 was plagued by bike issues. So really, I want to go and prove my worth. Some people only saw my worst from 2018 so it would be nice to go and prove them wrong. Even some people in my own camp doubt me at times. Hopefully, I can earn a NL guest booking in the not too distant future.
10. Any sponsors to shout out too:
Pete Hibberd Training Academy
Main Image credit: ScipsPics