DOYLE: TOUGH AT THE TOP
Aussie icon Jason Doyle admits a year in the world-champion spotlight was “a massive learning curve” as he bids to enjoy SGP life more.
30 / 01 / 2019, 10:24
Aussie icon Jason Doyle admits a year in the world-champion spotlight was “a massive learning curve” as he bids to enjoy FIM Speedway Grand Prix life more in 2019.
The Newcastle-born star completed his extraordinary charge to the top of the sport when he lifted the FIM Speedway World Championship in Melbourne in 2017 – becoming the first Aussie to claim the sport’s top prize on home shale.
Only Tony Rickardsson and Nicki Pedersen have successfully defended the title in the SGP era, and Doyle admits he found life as the champ tough.
I was always under the radar and never had this fame on the speedway scene. That was probably the hardest thing to deal with, I guess.
He finished seventh in the standings – his lowest placing since joining the series in 2015. The fact he has never finished outside the top seven is a remarkable achievement in itself for a man who had never ridden an SGP heat prior to his debut at the 2015 Warsaw SGP.
But Doyle admits dealing with the pressure that comes with defending the sport’s biggest prize and being the sport’s figurehead was no easy task.
He said: “Last year I wanted to enjoy it and that never happened. There was a lot of pressure I put on myself. Things weren’t going to plan. It was a massive learning curve and I learned a lot more last year than I have the last three or four years.
“I didn’t like the person I became – trying to be that leader, that world champion. I learned a lot from the pressure.”
Doyle admits it took some time to adapt to being world champ. “I haven’t grown up with the spotlight on me,” he said.
“So it has been difficult to be Jason Doyle the world champion and also Jason Doyle the top speedway rider.
“I was always under the radar and never had this fame on the speedway scene. That was probably the hardest thing to deal with, I guess.”
Being world champion inevitably comes with added interest and attention off the track and Doyle admits that isn’t always compatible with finding the focus he needs to deliver his best performances on the shale.
He said: “There are a lot of people wanting to talk to you and interact with you before a race meeting. I’m not the person to be doing that because I’m focused and ready to do my job.
“It’s not like any other job when you can just go there and chat to people, still get on with your job and do it 100 percent. I am the person who needs to sit down and think exactly what I am going to do through that meeting.
“That sometimes might make people think I am arrogant and not wanting to talk. That’s just how I am and how I have been for the last 10 or 15 years I have raced speedway.
“From that side, I feel like I have to explain myself to a lot of people because they don’t get to see that side to riders.
“In speedway, you’re very lucky to get up close and personal with the riders. It’s not like that with other major motorsports.”
While Doyle is determined to retain a steely focus on the job, he knows being in the limelight isn’t all bad.
“I’m not turning any of this attention down,” he said. “When I retire, I know it will be all gone. At the moment, I’m really enjoying being Jason Doyle and I’m trying to get back on top.
“I do understand the fans want to have this interaction with the riders and you have to try to do that as well. It’s just quite difficult when you want to be winning races and not thinking about that side to it.
“Hopefully this year I can interact a bit more, not being the world champion, and show a little bit of a different style.”