James Whitham

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James Michael 'Jamie' Whitham (born 6 September 1966 in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England),[1] is a former professional motorcycle road racer. He raced in most major British and international championships, winning the British championship twice. The readers of Motorcycle News voted him 'Man of the Year' in both 1991 and 1996.[2]

After retiring from racing he works as a television motorcycle race commentator, runs road-race tuition track days, and operates a small private airstrip near Huddersfield.

Early years[edit]

Whitam's first bike as a child was a Raleigh Wisp, a small-wheeled moped and his favourite early road-going machine was a Yamaha FS1-E, but he admitted to Motorcycle News in 1994 that he was more embarrassed at taking his learner-test with a Suzuki X-5 200 cc sidecar outfit.[3]

He won the 1986 British 80cc Championship, the 1988 1300cc Production British Championship, the 1991 MCN TT Superbike Challenge, with Suzuki; and for Yamaha in 1993 both the British Superbike Championship Supercup and the ACU TT Superbike British Championship. He confirmed to Motor Cycle News in 1994 prior to his World Superbike career that his best biking moment was winning the 750 cc double British championship for Yamaha, and that doing 185 mph at Daytona Speedbowl banking was exhilarating.[3]

He competed in the 1992 French Grand Prix at Magny Cours. He also competed on the Isle of Man - running in the Manx Grand Prix in 1985, and the TT from 1986 to 1989, with three top six results; and he won British championship races at Superstock, Seniorstock, Supersport 600 and TT Formula One levels.

International racing and Health Problems[edit]

In 1994 he raced full-time in the Superbike World Championship for Ducati with team-mate Carl Fogarty,[4] taking a race win at Sentul and finishing 7th overall. He returned to the British series in 1995, leading the standings and taking a podium as a World Superbike Championship wild-card at Brands Hatch, but contracted Hodgkin's Disease mid-season. He recovered in time to be British Superbike Championship runner-up in 1996 on a Yamaha, despite not scoring at the first round [5][dead link] - he won ten races, twice the number of champion Niall Mackenzie.

He raced for the Harris Suzuki team in the World Superbike Championship in 1997 and 1998, finishing 8th in the championship both seasons with a total of 3 podiums,[6][dead link] but for 1999 the factory contract changed hands, and the new owners hired Pierfrancesco Chili and Katsuaki Fujiwara. Worse was to follow when he was hired by Kenny Roberts' uncompetitive Modenas 500cc World Championship team: he crashed heavily at Brno, breaking his pelvis.

Following his win at Donington during 1999 in a one-off appearance, he competed in the Supersport World Championship from 2000 to 2002. He won his very first race in 2000 before a string of crashes (including while leading at Misano)[7] knocked his confidence and relegated him to 8th overall in 2000.[8] He was 4th overall in 2001, forced to support team-mate Paolo Casoli's bid for the championship.[9] In 2002 he won in the wet at Silverstone,[10][dead link] before Glaucoma, most likely a consequence of past chemotherapy, caused him to retire at the end of the year. In total he took 4 World Supersport victories [11][dead link] and 12 podiums. He held the Supersport lap record at Donington Park until Kenan Sofuoglu beat it in 2007.[12][dead link]

British Superbike Championship[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Make 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Pos Pts Ref
R1 R2 R1 R2 R1 R2 R1 R2 R1 R2 R1 R2 R1 R2 R1 R2 R1 R2 R1 R2
1996 Yamaha DON
Ret
DON
Ret
THR
2
THR
2
OUL
1
OUL
2
SNE
1
SNE
1
BHGP
1
BHGP
1
KNO
2
KNO
2
CAD
1
CAD
1
MAL
1
MAL
1
BHGP
4
BHGP
5
DON
3
DON
1
2nd 390

Superbike World Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Make 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Pos Pts
R1 R2 R1 R2 R1 R2 R1 R2 R1 R2 R1 R2 R1 R2 R1 R2 R1 R2 R1 R2 R1 R2 R1 R2
1994 Ducati SMR
11
SMR
Ret
ESP
3
ESP
3
AUT
7
AUT
Ret
INA
1
INA
4
JPN
Ret
JPN
10
NED
5
NED
5
ITA
8
ITA
4
GBR
Ret
GBR
Ret
AUS
Ret
AUS
Ret
7th 129
1995 Ducati GBR
3
GBR
8
22nd 24
1996 Yamaha GER
Ret
GER
10
ITA
7
ITA
6
GBR
Ret
GBR
Ret
NED
6
NED
14
17th 37
1997 Suzuki AUS
Ret
AUS
13
SMR
Ret
SMR
Ret
GBR
8
GBR
10
GER
14
GER
3
ITA
6
ITA
3
USA
8
USA
Ret
GBR
7
GBR
9
AUT
10
AUT
6
NED
7
NED
11
ESP
Ret
ESP
10
INA
9
INA
6
8th 140
1998 Suzuki AUS
Ret
AUS
12
GBR
8
GBR
8
ITA
8
ITA
5
ESP
11
ESP
10
GER
9
GER
10
SMR
6
SMR
Ret
RSA
4
RSA
Ret
USA
6
USA
5
GBR
5
GBR
3
AUT
5
AUT
6
NED
Ret
NED
5
JPN
9
JPN
11
8th 173

Post racing[edit]

Whitham now operates Crosland Moor airfield,[13][14] and also runs race-tuition track days,[15] previously with business partner Paul Shoesmith under the defunct company Speed Freak.[16]

He established a second career as a popular TV analyst for Eurosport, Channel 4 and ITV.[17] Whitham provides commentary and analysis for the Isle of Man TT coverage by ITV4 alongside former racer Steve Parrish, which is shown on Velocity Channel in the United States.[18][19]

Whitham also works as a road tester for the British motorcycle magazine Visordown, and has also worked with the young riders of the Virgin Media Cup.[20] In 2008 he launched his autobiography, 'What A Good Do!'.[21] From January 2013 he hosted and presented The Superbike Show on Loaded TV.

Whitham was awarded an honorary Doctorate qualification by Huddersfield University in July 2009.[22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Genes Reunited Births Retrieved 2014-06-13
  2. ^ [1] PD Sports Management Retrieved 2014-06-14
  3. ^ a b Motorcycle News 23 February 1994 p.39 My Bikes, Jamie Whitham Accessed and added 2014-10-23
  4. ^ Motor Cycle News 22 December 1993 p.19 Whitham signs up for factory Ducati assault Accessed and added 2014-10-26
  5. ^ [2][dead link]
  6. ^ [3][dead link]
  7. ^ dropbears.com
  8. ^ [http://www.geocities.com/paul_fawcett/wss2000.htm[dead link]
  9. ^ [4][dead link]
  10. ^ www.independent.co.uk[dead link]
  11. ^ www.europark.com[dead link]
  12. ^ www.dailymotos.co.uk[dead link]
  13. ^ Director Check, James Michael Whitham Huddersfield Aviation Ltd Retrieved 2014-06-14
  14. ^ Crosland Moor Airfield Gallery. "James (Fireball) Whitham is one of the airfield owners" Retrieved 2014-06-14
  15. ^ JW Track training Retrieved 2014-06-12
  16. ^ Speed Freak (dissolved company) directors Paul Shoesmith, James Whitham Retrieved 2014-06-14
  17. ^ http://armchairbikefan.blogspot.com
  18. ^ http://sport-onthebox.com/2014/05/24/isle-of-man-tt-2014-highlights-on-itv4/
  19. ^ http://www.iomtt.com/News/2014/April/11/TV-Deals-2014-TT.aspx
  20. ^ www.moto-newsblog.com
  21. ^ www.alexreade.net
  22. ^ Honorary Doctorate, Huddersfield Examiner Retrieved 2014-06-12