High-flying Jack poised for stardom

TRIALS has long been one of the world's most skilful disciplines of motorcycle sport and Suffolk is home to one of the most promising riders the region has ever producedJack Sheppard (13) from Sproughton, ably assisted by his dad Mark, has been taking the British Youth trials championships by storm.

TRIALS has long been one of the world's most skilful disciplines of motorcycle sport and Suffolk is home to one of the most promising riders the region has ever produced

Jack Sheppard (13) from Sproughton, ably assisted by his dad Mark, has been taking the British Youth trials championships by storm.

Like most successful motorcycle competitors, Jack started competing in trials at a young age, entering his first event, organised by the Triangle (Ipswich) MCC, at six aboard a Yamaha TY80.

From then on, his success has snowballed and the Claydon High School pupil began to make a name for himself when, at the age of eight, he finished third in the 2002 British Youth Class D Championship aboard a 125cc Gas Gas.

The following year he took part in the same championship, gaining just as much success. In addition, 2003 saw him switch from using Gas Gas machinery to Beta after the Corton Trials Centre's Chris Edwards recognised Jack's potential and put him in contact with John Lampkin - uncle of multiple World Trials champion Dougie.

In 2004, the then 10-year-old moved up to the British Youth Class C Championship, where he finished fourth and 2005 saw him win the series, hitting the national headlines.

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Last season saw Jack move up to class B and finish sixth, which has held him in good stead for this year's championship.

This season is looking very promising for Jack - he's already won the first three rounds of this year's B class, as well as several local trials.

“We're usually practicing at least three times a week,” said father Mark, “mainly at local venues such as Raydon.

“Richmond in North Yorkshire is his favourite. The terrain is completely different to that of the countryside around here. It has plenty of rocks, streams and all sorts of challenging obstacles, so we try to get him there as much as possible so that he can continue to develop his skills.

“Jack's main rival, Richard Sadler, lives there too. They're both the same age and risen from each class to the next for the last few years. Jack's been doing well to keep him at bay.

“Jack does all his own bike maintenance and I never have to remind him to get his bike ready for a meeting, he's 100% committed.”

Many people who compete in the sport have been perplexed by Jack's natural ability. Mark said: “I don't know where he gets it from. I've dabbled a bit in the sport myself but nothing on the scale of what Jack has achieved.”

And Jack's natural talent hasn't gone unnoticed by any means - many local businesses and enthusiasts have come forward to sponsor the youngster, including Seven Asset Management.

“We've always been very interested in sport at a grassroots level,” said Seven Asset Management managing director Tim Forman, “and it's always good to support the local talent.

“We've been supporting Jack for over four years now and seeing him rise through the ranks at this pace has been truly astounding.”

Jack's next British Championship trial will be on June 24 at Abergavenny in Wales where he hopes to continue his dominance of the class B championship.

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