High 50 Riders of the Nineteen Eighties (By The Numbers): #44 Jeremy Whatley

MX Vice’s High 50 Riders of the Nineteen Eighties (By The Numbers) continues with its second straight British rider, who might be one of many least well-known of our racers from that point, 30 to 40 years later. Regardless of that, his expertise shouldn’t be underestimated, nor ought to his accomplishents.

Phrases: Ben Rumbold | Photographs: Jack Burnicle

As our high 50 Riders of the 80s checklist is “By The Numbers” and people numbers are primarily based on race wins, most readers will appropriately guess the highest-placed British rider, and there will probably be no surprises when his identify seems.

What may shock you is who gained the second-most variety of GPs from any Brits within the Nineteen Eighties – a great buddy of our primary, by the identify of Jeremy Whatley. The person referred to as “Jem” challenged for world championship honours in his early 20s in addition to dominating the home scene within the 250cc class. As a teen he was dubbed “the brand new Neil Hudson”, and while he by no means obtained that FIM Gold medal he did in the end take the British Open Class title later in his profession, simply as Nellie did.


Born: November 1962

Years Professionally Raced: 1982-1995 (250cc GPs 1982-84 & 86-90, 500cc GPs 1985 & 91-95)

Machines Raced: Suzuki, Kawasaki, Cagiva, Yamaha, Honda, KTM

GP Wins: 5          GP Podiums: 19     GP Moto Wins: 8        GP Moto Podiums: 33

Nations Picks: 8 – Member of MX des Nations 2nd-placed group 1986

Championship Medals: 1 Bronze – 1984 250cc World Championship

Hailing from comparable Hampshire territory to Graham Noyce, he gained all the things within the fledgling schoolboy scene of the late 70s and early 80s, earlier than making his GP debut at Hawkstone Park in 1982 aged simply 19.  In a GP gained by final champion Danny LaPorte, Whatley impressed by scoring a degree, again once you needed to end 10th to take action!

This uncooked expertise noticed him onto the Nations group for each the 250cc and 500cc occasions in September.  They wanted 4-man groups then and Whatley joined earlier World Champions Noyce & Hudson in addition to fellow teenage prospect Dave Thorpe in difficult the reigning champs from the USA. These occasions have been those dominated by Danny Chandler because the People cleaned-up in a much more dominant win than their maiden successes the earlier yr.  Within the first moto of the Trophee occasion at Gaildorf nevertheless, the teenage Brits have been 2nd & 3rd behind Magoo! Immediately behind Jem have been such names as Harry Everts and Johnny O’Mara!  He was in the end our greatest general finisher in 7th, and matched that efficiency per week later, even on the fire-breathing yellow 500!

With “Jem Who?” written on his pants, Whatley flies the 250 Suzuki in the direction of a Third-placed moto end at Beuern in West Germany, 1983.

Jem by no means had the bodily dimension of somebody like Thorpe or Hakan Carlqvist, however he matched that 7th general on the 1983 MXdN as nicely, and though his greatest outcomes all got here on a 250, there’s that feeling that he might have carried out nicely on a 500 had he managed to get a journey in that class earlier in his profession.

Confidence buoyed from his good exhibiting within the Nations occasions, Whatley attacked his first full season of GPs in 1983, nonetheless on a high quality Suzuki machine, and simply missed out on the rostrum with 4th general on the Spanish opener at Sabadell.  He scored factors sporadically by means of the yr, cracking the highest three in a moto for the primary time at Beuern in West Germany, however there was higher to come back! Nonetheless but to have fun his 21st birthday, Jem took a breakthrough first GP moto win within the 2nd race at Frauenfeld in Switzerland, incomes 3rd within the GP behind German Rolf Dieffenbach and fellow Suzuki man Georges Jobe, who additionally clinched his 2nd world title that day.

On his option to his first Grand Prix win, on house turf at Newbury in 1984, with Jacky Vimond giving chase.

1984 was the yr that Whatley actually obtained amongst one of the best on this planet. The outdated guard of Jobe and LaPorte had moved on and the 250 GPs have been disputed amongst rising stars Heinz Kinigadner, Jacky Vimond, and Gert-Jan Van Doorn.  Incomes 2nd general at each rounds 2 & 3, he went into the fifth spherical, the British GP at Newbury, mendacity 4th within the sequence. A wholesome crowd witnessed a uncommon second in 250 GPs when two Brits led the pack all through, with Whatley main a 19-year-old Andy Nicholls! Amazingly the Kawasaki child took the win from Jem and so they completed 1-2 in that first moto, and it was Andy’s solely GP factors rating of the yr! The second moto noticed Jorgen Nilsson win from Jacky Martens – they’d conflict closely for a 500 title 9 years later – with Jem in 4th to seal a superb house GP general win! This left him 2nd in factors to Kinigadner, a place he would preserve till the final two rounds.  A moto win at Bielstein in West Germany, and the general win with two 2nds at Nismes in Belgium weren’t sufficient to carry off Jacky Vimond for twond, particularly as Jem scored no factors in any respect in three of the final 5 GPs! Even so, he would have fun his 22nd birthday because the proprietor of a bronze medal for 3rd on this planet.

One good little quirk to these GP-winning days, the primary of Jem’s profession, was that his good mate Thorpey additionally gained his first two GPs on these exact same days! While Whatley gained in Newbury, so DT was profitable in Sweden. And on that memorable day when David swept each motos at Hawkstone Park in late July, he obtained the cellphone name that Whatley had additionally gained in Belgium!  It had been three years since Brits had challenged on the high of each championships, however as 1985 hove into view, Whatley determined he would forego the #3 plate for a crack at Thorpey and the 500cc class.

Flying a 500 Kawasaki in 1985, in a season that began very promisingly.

The deal for ’85 was a wierd one – organised by Dave Grant in a personal group which secured help from Kawasaki for Jem and self-exiled US famous person Danny Chandler! Chandler obtained in hassle with Kawasaki so Grant needed to get assist from KTM as a substitute, though Whatley remained in inexperienced. It began very well with 3rd in every of the primary three motos, giving Jem 3rd general on the Austrian opener behind the mighty HRC Hondas of Thorpe and winner Andre Malherbe. The next week at Thouars in France noticed him 3rd within the opening race behind Malherbe and winner Chandler. The season went downhill for Whatley although, quicker than Chandler himself did at that French monitor! Solely scoring factors once more in Finland and Spain, he broke his wrist and needed to write off the second half of his 500cc marketing campaign.  He did come again on the finish of the yr to pinch his 3rd British 250cc title from Dave Watson at a dramatic last spherical at Hawkstone!

Whatley clinches his third straight British 250cc title at Hawkstone Park in 1985.

Again to the 250 class it was for 1986 and, nonetheless solely 23, Jem picked up a journey on the speedy Cagiva machine, with the Italian marque aiming at including quarter-litre success to its wonderful 125cc title win in ’85. He needed to get better from a damaged collarbone sustained on the Hawkstone British Championship opener, which made him miss the opening two GPs.  Nonetheless, he obtained again to type to take his first and solely double moto most at spherical 5, among the many superb hillsides of the Sverepec circuit in Czechoslovakia. Jem adopted that up two weeks later with a loudly-cheered second moto win at Farleigh Citadel, though he misplaced the general verdict to final champion Vimond.  He was 2nd once more to Vimond in Switzerland, however sadly for Jem a double moto win for Van Doorn denied the Brit a second bronze medal and he ended 4th for the yr.

Jeremy enjoys extra house GP success with the second moto win at Farleigh Citadel, on the beautiful Cagiva in 1986.

There’s a nice story from the tip of 1986, the place Whatley travelled to Luxembourg to cheer on DT within the final-round showdown to retain his 500cc world crown. Thorpe was struggling in practise and Whatley might see it, so he leapt over the fence to offer some important instruction to his World Champion buddy!  On Sunday, Jem’s recommendation was heeded and in utilizing one in all his strains, Thorpey handed a floundering Andre Malherbe to take the important first race win that helped clinch title quantity 2!

After lacking out on a Nations choice for the primary time in 1985, Jem had earned his place on the group alongside Thorpe for the fantastic 1986 occasion at Maggiora.  By the way in which, what number of instances does this occasion get talked about on this sequence?!  It’s like EVERYONE was there!  And Whatley greater than held his personal with strong 4-3 motos to again up group chief Thorpey as the threerd 250cc rider general.  Solely Ricky Johnson and residential hero Michele Rinaldi have been in entrance of him on 250s, and the Brits have been 2nd on the day to the God-like efficiency from Staff USA.

Lovely type that raises Italian cheers for the Italian bike, as Whatley helps to information Staff GB to 2nd general on the 1986 Motocross des Nations at Maggiora.

Unable to agree phrases for a second season on the Cagiva, Jem returned to the acquainted yellow of Suzuki for 1987, but it surely was to be a really disappointing season.  The bike was bathroom customary, nowhere close to as aggressive as earlier than, and solely guest-riding Bob Hannah gained a moto on one all yr! Harm deterred Jem from travelling to the USA for spherical 9 and his season was carried out from there, though he did win his 4th 250cc British title and the Weston Seaside Race!

The 1988 Suzuki, with assist from their US star Johnny O’Mara, was a lot improved and instantly the Brit was again on the tempo, profitable the primary GP from new 125cc Champ John Van Den Berk, and recording a high three moto end in every of the primary 5 rounds!  3rd general at Czecho and one other in style moto win on house soil, this time at a really soggy Frome in Somerset, noticed Jem 2nd within the sequence, inside 20 factors of Van Den Berk with some sturdy circuits developing for him!

Whatley leads the pack into the primary nook on the 1988 French 250 GP at Salindres, forward of #10 Gert-Jan van Doorn and #9 John van den Berk.

Unbelievably for a title contender, Whatley did not qualify on the Belgian GP after a sudden downpour hit the grassy circuit earlier than he might set a great time! Fellow Brit Rob Herring took that GP general which restricted the injury, however Whatley’s title problem appeared over. He clawed his method again to 2nd in factors once more by the tip of spherical 9 at Unadilla, however then a slow-motion fall while practising at his native Matchams Park circuit broke his leg, and dominated him out of the final three rounds in South America and Sweden.  5th within the championship was scant reward for his pace and the consistency which he had began to seek out, and Jem was by no means fairly a contender once more for a world title.

It appeared like he is perhaps the next yr, nevertheless, as he opened the 1989 marketing campaign with a shocking GP win on the basic Swiss circuit of Payerne, topping an all-Suzuki general podium alongside new teammate Herring and Italian Michele Fanton.  It turned out to be his final ever GP win, and 250 GP podium as nicely, as he slipped to 11th within the sequence that was dominated by Jean-Michel Bayle.  For those who seek for Jeremy Whatley on-line, it’s possible you’ll come throughout a horrendous video from the 1989 Czecho GP, that I critically wouldn’t advise watching.  Jem himself can’t watch it, and there’s no marvel why because it reveals him on the ground, seemingly lifeless after a crash down a massively steep downhill, with bikes racing simply inches previous both aspect of him, and worse nonetheless a bunch of spectators making an attempt to tug him off the monitor whereas he’s nonetheless unconscious. His shoulder was dislocated of their efforts to maneuver him, and it’s surprising that this lack {of professional} medical assist was nonetheless prevalent at GP degree in 1989.

He endured an terrible 1990, along with his Mitsui Yamaha maintained by rookie mechanic Steve Dixon, however he not often cracked the highest ten at world degree. So Jeremy opted for a change of scene and moved to a giant 500 full-time on the age of 28 for 1991.

He had one thing of a profession renaissance on the Motion Workshop Kawasaki, lastly clinching the Open Class British crown regardless of one other wrist damage, and even ending 2nd general to ol’ mate Thorpey on the German GP on the bone-hard blue-groove of Reutlingen.

The Motion Workshop group picked up ex-HRC Honda machines from Eric Geboers, and Johnson sponsorship from new signing Billy Liles, for 1992.  Within the phrases of group supervisor Julian Clarke, “he was good on the inventory Kawasaki, however with the brand new bikes he felt the strain and his head went.” Three GP podiums, together with a strong day at Hawkstone Park behind Liles and Jobe, have been the final of his profession, and he completed the yr 9th within the standings.

On a personal KTM in 1993, he once more obtained 9th for the yr by means of sheer consistency fairly than pace, and eventually referred to as it time in 1995.  A superb mechanic and engineer in his personal proper, he truly labored with the Crescent Suzuki BSB squad after his racing retirement, and likewise their World Endurance group as crew chief.

After all, it wouldn’t be a Whatley function with out mentioning the chip off the outdated block.  Jeremy’s son Kristian took the MX1 British title in 2013, making the household solely the second ever to function father-and-son British Champions, after John and Mark Banks.  Kristian by no means went to GP degree, primarily because of the lack of monetary incentive in 21st Century MXGP.  However his father was one in all our easiest within the Nineteen Eighties and slots in properly at quantity 45 in our checklist of the 50 Greatest… By The Numbers!

Whatley all the time rode nicely for his nation, even early in his profession. Right here he forces his 500 Suzuki round Kester to assist Staff GB in the direction of Third general in 1983.

The Numbers

Like Rob Herring, Jem’s numbers are critically harmed by accidents that led to him lacking many chunks of a number of GP seasons.  From the 7 full years he competed in, plus his wild card debut at Hawkstone in 1982, there have been 83 GPs in whole. His 5 wins over 6 of these years might simply have been added to with out the accidents that dominated him out of at the least ten of them. As with many European riders, the 8 Nations picks, while together with some nice outcomes, introduced no wins to assist his share that counts to make this checklist. Whatley gained 6% of the 250cc GPs held throughout his profession, and extra precise top-level races than any Brit aside from Dave Thorpe. He was an actual expertise.

Subsequent week we function our first rider from that mighty Motocross nation of Belgium, who flew beneath the radar of his many illustrious countrymen however nonetheless made his mark on the last decade!

Nineteen Eighties Numbers:

GPs counted: 83 – 5 Wins

Nations Occasions: 8 – 0 Particular person Wins

Whole: 91 Occasions, 5 Wins, Profitable Share 5.5

Season By Season:

Yr       Class                      File                  Champ Place     Nations Particular person End

1982:     250cc GPs           1 spherical, 0 wins         forty sixth                     seventh MXdN & seventh Trophee dN

1983:     250cc GPs         11 rounds, 0 wins        ninth                      seventh MXdN & ninth Trophee dN

1984:     250cc GPs         12 rounds, 2 wins        Third                      ninth MXdN & 18th Trophee dN

1985:     500cc GPs         12 rounds, 0 wins       thirteenth                      —

1986:     250cc GPs         12 rounds, 1 win          4th                       MXdN, Third 250cc Class

1987:     250cc GPs         12 rounds, 0 wins       sixteenth                      —

1988:     250cc GPs         12 rounds, 1 win          fifth                       —

1989:     250cc GPs         11 rounds, 1 win          eleventh                     MXdN, tenth 250cc Class