An elite level national road racer, Britain’s Tim Neave (Yamaha) took a wild card entry for the opening Final of the 2023 FIM Flat Track World Championship in Manchester at the start of August and it reignited a fire inside him for a sport he had not raced seriously since 2014.
The twenty-eight-year-old started this year contesting the British Superbike (BSB) championship, though a series of technical problems combined with the after-effects of a huge practice crash in 2022 prompted him to take a step back from racing at the start of the summer.
However, when the ACU – Britain’s national motorcycle federation – invited him to contest the first Final of this year’s FIM Flat Track World Championship at the National Speedway Stadium at Belle Vue he decided the chance to return to the sport that first got him hooked on racing was too good to turn down.
Neave was raised on a farm and had no interest in motorcycles until a Flat Track racer moved to a nearby village. Within a year he was competing and four years after his debut in 2010 he was crowned British champion before making the switch to tarmac.
Along with his twin brother Tom – who is currently contesting the BSB series for Honda UK – he rapidly climbed the road racing ranks until disillusionment set in this year. Fortunately, the ACU came calling with an offer he could not refuse.
“The weather at Belle Vue was terrible, but I just had so much fun,” he said. “I crashed a few times which meant I didn’t have enough points to get into the Grand Final, which was a real shame, but I got the buzz back for racing Flat Track again. Off the back of that I applied to do the rest of the championship and headed off to Hungary for the second round.
“To be honest, Hungary didn’t go to plan. With me not having raced Flat Track for so long and everyone else doing it week-in and week-out it did show a little bit. I was disappointed because I know I’m better than my result in Hungary and I’ve got no doubt that I’ll figure it out and get my set-up right with the bike.”
With the third Final scheduled for Boves in Italy this coming Saturday (16 September), Neave thinks the TT style of circuit which also uses the infield as well as the conventional oval track will be more suited to his skills.
“I’ve not had enough Flat Track training recently to get myself dialled back into it and that shows when you’re lining up against some of the best riders in the world. I’m not quite where I want to be, I’m learning again, and I think the TT track will be a lot more technical and more suited to the kind of training I’ve done over the years.
“I do believe I can win a race, it’s just a matter of time and getting things figured out and at the minute I need to make a Grand Final. The standard is very high and if you’re just a tenth-of-a-second off each lap then you’re nowhere. It really is that close. You need to be on your game and I’m just lacking that little edge right now.
“I’m absolutely loving it and I want to come back next year and need to make sure I prepare properly. I’ll spend the winter training for Flat Track, get my bike set up, get all the parts and spares I’ll need and all being well have a proper go at it with the aim of winning the championship.”
Racing at Boves is scheduled to get under way with the opening Heat at 14:45 local time.