THE QUITE MAN OF RACING
After achieving 2nd place in last year's Ultra-Lightweight TT we decided to find out more about 27 year old British Road Racer, James
Crumpton. Born in Stourport-on-Severn, and still living there with girlfriend Penny, he is a quiet but popular and well known face around the
T.T. Paddock to all the regulars who camp there.
We put the following questions to the quiet man of few words himself (quiet that is unless you've managed to catch him after a celebratory drink in a Douglas Night Club)!!!
How did your racing career begin?
My first race was at Mallory Park in 1992 where I finished in 8th position out of a full grid of 125cc machines. After a successful couple of years club racing I decided to have a go at the British Championship in1994 and continued until 1997, consistently finishing in the top 15 with my best position being 11th. I soon realised that without some serious financial backing I was never going to reach my full potential at this level.
How did you get into 'Pure Road Racing?
Ever since I was born I have been to the I.O.M. T.T. in fact I spent my first nine birthdays there with my parents as spectators. It was always my ambition that one day I would return there to race and win!
My first ever Road Race was the1994 T.T on a RS Honda 125cc where I finished in 23rd position as a newcomer. That same year I went on to do the UGP both of which I have continued to compete in ever since. My first NW 200 was in 1996.
Do you have a 'Road Racing Hero'?
It would be difficult to decide as there has been and still is so much talent out there, big and smaller names alike, but if I had to name one it would still have to be Joey.
Can you express your feelings at your success at the 2002 T.T?
During the race I was just focussed on just doing the job. I always felt that I had it in me to win a T.T. Race but had never had the right machinery to do it. When I realised I was up there I knew that all I had to do was keep going to gain the finish I knew I deserved. After achieving 2nd position all I have to do now is go back and win!
My sincere thanks goes to Pete Willbraham of Pearl Green Engineering who had seen me race at Mallory Park earlier in the season on my own aging machine. Afterwards he went out and bought me a race kitted RS Honda 125 for me to race for the rest of the season and continues to sponsor me now. It's impossible for any rider to have success without the right kind of help and backing.
As a 'new name on the block' has the attitude of spectators, riders, sponsors etc. towards you changed at all?
I feel that in general maybe I am more respected and my name is more widely known. If I ring someone for sponsorship/help these days they recognise the name rather than saying 'James who?' The attitude of other riders hasn't greatly differed, but people do ask me a lot more questions/advice than they ever used to.
What advice would you pass on to a newcomer to the T.T Course?
Never put your self under pressure. A rider should do the T.T. for himself and no one else. Relax and enjoy yourself, in my experience the good times will only come when this happens. You will only learn anything at the T.T. when you feel relaxed and comfortable, trying to do too much too soon never works and puts you and other riders in danger. Just enjoy it for what it is and you will feel that special buzz that only competing in a T.T. Race can give you.
What would your ideal T.T. Race Programme be?
Generally I think that the race program needs little alteration although it is a great shame that the 250s no longer have a race of their own, and of course I think that the 125s should also be started in front of the 400cc machinery. From my own experience last year I found that it is very difficult for even a fast 125 to pass a slow 400 mid corner, but it would surely be much easier and safer for a fast 400 to pass a slower 125 on a straight. Last year I found myself caught up in a lot of traffic (slower cornering 400's) where passing was difficult and this could possibly have cost me my win. A 125 carries much more corner speed than many of the larger machines and I found myself losing valuable seconds on more than one occasion.
What are your views on using transponders at the T.T.?
Personally I believe transponders should have been phased in years ago to prevent timing irregularities. The racing gets closer and closer every year and it's the only fair way to do it. I hope that the transponders are used to their full potential providing sector times, etc. for teams and riders for improving performance and therefore not just benefiting the organisers. The only downside to the introduction this year is that the riders have to purchase a transponder for each machine themselves. At around £170 per machine it is a massive expense especially for a team racing on a small budget; any travel money/start money earned is immediately used up.
What does a man like James Crumpton need to get him through the 2003 season?
The list could be endless (and probably is), but a race van is at the very top of my priority list at the moment and needed urgently, so anyone out there who thinks they might be able to help, please do!
On a more serious note I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for my friends and family, specifically my Mum and Dad, girlfriend Penny, and sponsor Pete Willbraham, who have been of great support to me, particularly over recent months. I owe thanks to them all and hope that they continue to support me as they always have done.
Where can we expect to see James Crumpton in 2003?
Due to a knock to the head sustained off of the racing track towards the end of 2002 my racing season will not be starting too early in the season. In September last year I was found to have a blood clot on my brain and unbelievably given just one hour to live! My main focus throughout my ordeal was getting back to race at T.T.2003 and I believe that it was this which aided me in my amazingly quick recovery.
Throughout the winter months I have been getting myself back to full fitness ready to be back on the track as soon as possible, my main aim of course being the T.T. This year I am hoping to compete on a number of bikes yet to be confirmed.
The Irish Championships are also important to me where I will be racing the 125 and the 250 in the Gary Dynes Championship, both bikes being provided by Pete Willbraham. The S100, Aberdare, the UGP and possibly the last Scarborough meeting are all on my 'to do' list as well.
Michelle and Phil Harvey
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