Todd Kellett interview
Todd Kellett is a rider who seems to have been around for a long time despite being just 20-years-old.
The friendly and polite young man from Langport in Somerset has been part of the British schoolboy moto scene since he started on a 65 with some success coming third in the Red Bull Elite Youth Cup and second in subsequent years on small wheeled and big wheeled 85s.
Turning pro in 2014, the season started well but crashes and injuries hurt him and 2015 was also a bust as he struggled to get fit whilst overcoming more injuries.
Not surprisingly after two seasons frustrated by injury there were no offers of support for 2016 until Cresent KTM offered a discount deal. Determined to make a go of it Kellett started training with Justin Morris and as the results improved so did the confidence.
Highlights included winning the Patchquick Trophy and winning Weston Beach Race on a second-hand KTM 350XC purchased by long-term sponsors SJ Hodder.
With support from the small but passionate Cornish dealership, St Blazey Husqvarna for 2017, the Kelletts decided to step up again and try the EMX250 championship. The timing was perfect as his dad had just retired and was able to commit to hitting the road with Todd, being driver and mechanic.
Chasing the dream in the most competitive class has been a steep learning curve but with some good results and a never give up attitude, his name is on a few team managers’ shopping list for next year.
We sat down with Todd to chat about life as a privateer at the GPs.
Dirt Bike Rider: Todd, tell us about your decision to do the European championships.
Todd Kellett: We did a European race in 2015 at Valkenswaard, just to see where we were. I wasn’t riding very well and didn’t qualify but we loved how it worked, with everyone who was there and how fast it was and we just wanted to do it again. We would’ve liked to have done it in ’16 but we didn’t have the time or the money. At the start of this year, we made the decision to do the Europeans. I didn’t know then but Mum and Dad and Stuart [Hodder, long time sponsor SJ Hodder Builders] had made the decision to do the first two and if I didn’t qualify we wouldn’t do any more.
As it turned out I qualified in Trentino, I was 13th so straight through which I was ecstatic about. The bike broke in the first race but I finished eighth on my spare bike in the second race and felt comfortable.
In Valkenswaard we had another mechanical issue which meant I didn’t qualify. I was absolutely devastated! I went out in the LCQ and was quite nervous and I was just telling myself “it’ll be like a South West Premier”. I started in fourth then just moved up and won it. I had a terrible gate pick but I was just happy to be in the race.
DBR: Your results so far have been a bit inconsistent with a couple of mechanical DNFs and a crash in Ottobiano but they don’t really reflect your speed in qualifying.
TK: I get a bit nervous before qualifying but for example, in Latvia, I felt good and qualified sixth I think. The first bend was an 180-degree right-hander so nobody has any rear brake and I knew there would be pile-ups there. Unfortunately, I was at the bottom of both of them so that was a right off. I got going and got a ninth and 13th I think so it was points, but I think if I’d got around the first corner I could have got top five which is the goal.
DBR: In France you came from last after a first turn crash and passed about 29 people, which was more than anyone else that weekend.
TK: Yeah I think the speed and fitness are there, the bike is mega, it’s just putting it all together. When it does come together I’m sure we can have some solid results. I had a fourth in France which is where we want to be so hopefully we can build on that. Ottobiano was a struggle for everyone but for British riders we’re just not used to that sort of heat.
DBR: How do you feel now that we’re five races into the championship? How does it compare to racing at home?
TK: The races are a lot more hectic than the British championship so the British doesn’t really prepare you for that. The other thing is the tracks. This year the British championships just haven’t got that rough then you come to a GP track and it’s like “wow, look at this”.
DBR: How have you managed to prepare? You mentioned working with Justin Morris as your riding coach.
TK: I’ve worked with Justin for two years. I love it, there’s lots of banter and it’s fun. When we go to the track its work but we make it fun. One of the best things is that we all want to win and be the best so when we’re on the track it’s like a British championship on a Wednesday. I ride with Ben Watson, Conrad Mewse, Matt Burrows, Dan Thornhill – we get on well. With Justin we line up and race together, it’s just awesome!
DBR: Is there anything specific that you’re working on?
TK: I think at this level we can all ride a bike and you should have the fitness so it’s about trying to fine tune the little things to be more comfortable and more relaxed. What we’re doing is definitely working I think.
DBR: The St Blazey Husqvarna deal came together very late last year.
TK: I’m over the moon with St Blazey and really thankful. I had no offers at the end of the year and they offered to help out. They’re only a small dealer in Cornwall but they’re real die-hard fans who love it. And Husqvarna UK and SJ Hodder, I couldn’t do it without the support they’re giving us. St Blazey are completely behind us doing the European championships which is important to me. I did speak to other potential sponsors last year but they only wanted to do British championships. My goal is to push on and get to MX2 so it was a must for me to be able to do the Europeans. I’m also grateful to my mum and dad for everything they’re doing for me to make it happen.
DBR: Talking to people in the paddock it seems like you’re on a few team’s shopping list now which must be a nice feeling.
TK: Absolutely. Last year I didn’t have anything until after the beach race and this year we’re only in June and people seem to be interested so it’s mega. But at the same time, I’m not getting my hopes up too early, I’ve been disappointed before. At the moment, I’ve got a job to do and when there are some more concrete offers we can make a decision.
DBR: Looking at the EMX championship, you’re 15th after seven of nine rounds but only seven points away from 11th.
TK: I was 10th after France and we missed Russia, and I only scored in one race in Italy and one race in Portugal so it hasn’t been a perfect few weeks, but we’re learning at each race. There’s something there to build on so hopefully, I can get solid finishes in the four races that are left.
DBR: If we ignore Russia, you’ve had a few other races where you haven’t scored points for various reasons, is there something you can do to help with your consistency?
TK: Definitely, this whole championship is so close, just look at Charboneau, he’s had a good weekend and moved right up in the championship. It’s such a tight championship, but the guys at the front are really pushing it every race. For me, with more experience and time at these events, that’s what I’m hoping for. My first season doing the Maxxis British championship was much the same, I was a bit inconsistent but now I’m striving to be top five in every round, otherwise, I’m disappointed. Hopefully, a bit more time in the EMX will benefit me.
DBR: There’s a little break in the EMX250 schedule now, what will you be doing before the next round?
TK: I’ve got the British championship at Blaxhall so I’ll be focused on that then I’ll be getting ready for the last two European rounds.
DBR: The two remaining races are in Switzerland and France, which are both hard pack tracks not too dissimilar to home, are you looking forward to those races?
TK: I’ve never raced either track but I’m looking forward to them. I’ve seen video and spoken to people and I think they should suit me, and they’re not too far. With two European rounds and three British championships left, the season has flown by but we’re on the home stretch.
DBR: There’s still plenty of points potentially available in each championship, is a top 10 finish still achievable in the European championship?
TK: I’d like to think so. I’d be over the moon with that. I am where I am at the end but the goal has got to be top 10. I do believe with four good races it’s possible. In the British, I’d like to be top five.
By: Andy GeePictures: Nuno Laranjeira
Published Date: 11 July 2017
Section: Motocross News