Jake Dixon ready to attack Moto2
BSB runner-up prepares to make his mark on the GP world
‘You have to mature in this game’
Leon Haslam dominated the 2018 Bennetts British Superbike championship, but there was one man that kept him on his toes throughout.
Jake Dixon finished on the rostrum just five times fewer than Haslam this year, beating the eventual champion on numerous occasions, which is all the more remarkable when you consider that he’s just 22.
Against a man 13 years his senior with far more experience, Dixon’s achievements are already impressive; not least because 2018 was only his second full-time season on a superbike.
In his short time in the class, Dixon has matured from someone known for being a bit of a crasher into the series’ youngest-ever Showdown contender in 2017 and then a genuine threat for the title just one year later.
Had Dixon beaten Haslam to the crown, he’d have been the series’ youngest champion to date. “We had a great end to 2017 and that led us into 2018 on a high,” Dixon said. “However, a lot changed ahead of this season. It had to for us to fight at the front, both from a team perspective and I had to change, too.
“Last year I was still quite rash with my decision-making. I would always push to the limit, even if I was uncomfortable and the bike wasn’t right. Sometimes that would lead to crashes. “Every year you race you learn more, and if you don’t learn from mistakes you make you won’t get anywhere. If you keep smashing yourself up, the team are only ever re-building the bike and you’re not going forwards. You need to stay on the bike, learn when to settle and your confidence will build and build. “You have to be more mature than your years in this game. I may be 22 but on track I feel like I’m 42 with the way that I’m thinking, the way that I try to process the way a weekend works to move forward. My crew chief Glen Richards has been a massive help in how I work on a weekend, he’s made me realise that I don’t need to be fastest in every session, the sessions you need to be fastest in are qualifying and the race.” Still at an early stage of his career, Dixon explored numerous avenues to become the contender we saw during the 2018 season. “It might sound strange, but I worked hard on my mind this year. There were a few things I used to struggle with so I started seeing a sports psychiatrist, who worked on these areas with me and it allowed me to open up a whole new perspective on racing. It’s quite a complex thing. “Your brain and the way you use it are key to being consistently fast. You could be unfit but still be super, super fast if your brain is in the right place, it would just mean you’d tire more quickly in a race.” Next season, Dixon turns his attention to becoming Britain’s next Grand Prix star in Moto2, but it’s a task he knows won’t be easy. “I’m not going to be at the front straight away; I’m going to have to work away at it and understand what I’ve got underneath me. Too many people go into that class and try to make an impression right from the start and then they just crash a lot.
“At the end of the day I’d rather be the person who turns up and doesn’t do too much to start with, but when I do have the feeling I need to have then I’ll make my impact. Nothing comes overnight, you’ve got to work for it.”
And Dixon is already working towards 2019 as he looks to shed some of the weight he’d put on with muscle to control his Kawasaki in BSB.
“It might be the off-season but I think I’ve only had two days off training, I’m working hard to get down to a better weight for the Moto2 bike.
“But it’s not all about training and eating the right things. Several times this year I found myself getting ill from overtraining, so it’s important to have time off too. A few weeks before my first test I have my stag do and in December I’m getting married, so there will be plenty of ‘off’ time this winter as well as hard work and preparation for the long season ahead.”
Dixon proved a serious rival to Haslam in BSB