Race ace John Neil rides again

editorial image

Stornoway race ace John Neil Mitchell took a ear-splitting burst down memory lane recently as he returned to competitive racing action on a beloved two-stroke Yamaha Banshee 350 – which he last rode back in 1999.

The 33-year-old has not been racing regularly over the past 18-months but he was back on his bike for the second round of the Scottish Championships which took place in Drumclog, Ayrshire.

And he showed no sign of race rust as he won the first race before the second planned race was scrapped due to torrential rain.

And while Mitchell admits to have been bitten by the racing bug once again he smiles and confesses he has no plans to return to being a full-time fixture on the racing calendar.

“I haven’t raced motorcross quads in around a year and a half so it was great to get back to it, even if only briefly,” he said.

“It was also really nice to do it on the Yamaha Banshee which is the kind I raced when I first had sponsorship and I had actually spent all winter rebuilding it.

“In the race itself I managed to get a lead into the first corner which is half the battle as no one is spraying mud on you from the front. I was pressed hard by a 16-year-old rider, Murray Graham, who I think will win a lot of titles but he made a mistake on the way around which allowed me to win by 10 to 15 seconds in the end.”

Despite not being a regular on the race circuit in 2014 Mitchell remains well known largely thanks to his incredible ability both on two wheels and four which has brought him a huge raft of honours including a hat-trick of British Quad Racing Championships.

“I’m not doing the full-time championships any more but when time and finances allow I do like to try and do the occasional race,” he continued.

“I am planning on going to Huntly for the third round of Scottish Championships but we will see beyond that.

“I do miss the buzz of racing and I really enjoyed taking part again but it would be too difficult and too big an ask to go back full-time and secure the sponsorship required.

“I have been asked to race in the 12-hour race in France at the end of August, one which I have won before, so I may end up doing that which is always a tough one but a fun one to do.”