2019 ended up being a massive year for you and you got the title you’ve fought for so long to win. It must have been an epic feeling to be number one at the close of an impressive season.
2019 was definitely a year I will never forget. For a number of years we have been on the right path to win the Australian motocross championship but would always come across some unexpected surprises that would keep us in the bridesmaid position. To finally claim the goal I set out to achieve as a very young racer was simply the best feeling I have ever experienced. I have never felt emotion like it before and most likely never will.
Can you tell us how you celebrated or was it too rowdy to print?
(laughs) I’m not much of a partier and those who know me will definitely agree I don’t handle alcohol well. So let’s just say there was a moment were my buddies Matty, Johnny and I were body sliding the old beer stained timber dance floor in the Irish bar of Mooloolaba
You’re a pretty self-sufficient guy when it comes to racing. What do you value most in a team?
Yes I have raced for many teams in my time and I don’t class myself as a high maintenance racer but I do love to train and this means burning through bikes and parts. I just want the tools to do my job and the people around me to make things happen. The people in a team are so important. Way more important than factory parts.
After a year with DPH, the team sadly folded just weeks after claiming both the MX1 and MX2 titles. There were rumblings that it might all come to an end mid-season. How did your deal with that sort of distraction?
Speaking about teams, DPH worked really well for me. Bikes, parts and they left the riders to do their jobs. Dale and Tash Hocking were an absolute pleasure to ride for and I’m saddened that we are not doing the same program in the future. There was no pressure as Dale and Tash understood that the work is done during the week and let the riders do their thing on race day. Whether it was a win or 5th they were there to help us improve.
How did you find out things weren’t going to roll into 2020 and what were your feelings on it all?
It was quite late actually, around the December period. I was very sad of course for Dale and Tash. I was also very worried as I was to defend the Australian MX champion and the team I was to race with just closed their doors. Meaning I didn’t have a job! Only one thing running through my mind at that stage was I didn’t want anything to change. I then decided to take on the challenge of running our own Husqvarna program. Same bike, parts and partners as 2019 with a couple added personal improvements.
I was very sad of course for Dale and Tash. I was also very worried as I was to defend the Australian MX champion and the team I was to race with just closed their doors. Meaning I didn’t have a job!
You seem to click well with the KTM/Husqvarna base. What is it about the FC450 that works so well for you?
From the age of 6 to 18 I raced for KTM and in 2014 when KTM took over Husqvarna I raced the FC 450 in the world championship. For me it’s home. I feel a connection with Husqvarna from my time in Europe and their bike I believe is the easiest motorcycle to race as a production motorcycle. I feel I could buy a Husqvarna from a shop and race it as is. I simply love my bike and hope to represent Husqvarna for the rest of my career.
You’re never one to stand still for long so you started your own team and recruited current MXD champ, Regan Duffy, as a team mate. How did this all come together and where are you pulling your support from?
Yes It’s definitely a curse of mine sometimes having an active mind like I do, I wind up being distracted from racing my dirtbike. The circumstances that we faced last year lead into putting my hand up to run the Husqvarna Motocross program. It feels like a good time in my life to take on this task as I’m really excited to work with young riders like Regan Duffy to help them achieve their goals and continue chasing mine also. I feel this team dynamic will only keep my head interested in the sport, training and pushing the younger riders only to result in improving both the athletes.
” It feels like a good time in my life to take on this task as I’m really excited to work with young riders like Regan Duffy to help them achieve their goals and continue chasing mine also.”TODD WATERS
The support has been tricky but over the years of racing I have built great relationships with the people and companies in the industry. I have felt great support from my current partners now involved. Almost everyone I have worked with in the past. Our major partner being Husqvarna giving us the best motorcycles in the game, Maxxis tyres joining the program to help lift out performance on track. Ant and Lee Ann from Berry Sweet Strawberry farm financially helping our program, The Lusty group with Troy Lee, Forma, ODI, Albek, Funnel Web, keeping us protected and looking great. M2R for their personal partnership in myself.
Acerbis, Kite wheels, Motorex, EK, MPE, Top Line, Vortex, FMF, VP and NGK are our partners in creating a top racing machine. SKDA keeping our bikes looking insane. AE4A grouple KTR, KT cables, Kt Sola, National Luna, Boab and Eezy awn keeping our race day set up on point. These are all the people and brands behind our program.
And of course you decided to run both the MX Nats and the AORC in 2020 which is a massive work load and something of a learning curve. So the obvious question is, why?
Well I guess my answer to this is Why Not!!! Firstly I love racing and riding my bike. Secondly a defending national MX champion has never raced both championships before and the opportunity of our calendars lined up to make it achievable. Yes it’s a massive learning curve as I didn’t know how to prepare for the off road championship. But it was a learning year for me to get my head around the tracks and formats as it’s very different to motocross.
Do you have the any of the big one off races in your sights like the A4DE, ISDE or Hattah?
Well, all three actually haha. I’m really excited to try out racing the Hattah desert race. Sounds brutal and I like difficult tasks. My goal is to adapt to all disciplines and be competitive at them all.
Here we are talking ot long after the Prime Minister had banned gatherings of more than two people. Racing has been called off for who knows how long. How does a pro rider keep themselves mentally and physically in shape when your brain and body knows it should be racing but you can’t?
This is a great question because I have never in my life been faced with a hurt like this before. Yes I’m worried, but I’m also worried about coming up short on a triple. One thing racing has taught me is to deal with the hurdles when you’re faced with them and always keep looking ahead to become better. Right now I’m training in a way that’s possible with the given circumstances. Working with my partners to keep producing content to push their brands and companies. Reassess goals, make plans and work to achieve them. You feel scared when there is no plan or direction so make one!
Yes I’m worried, but I’m also worried about coming up short on a triple. One thing racing has taught me is to deal with the hurdles when you’re faced with them and always keep looking ahead to become better.
The signs for the moto industry are that it will be a very different landscape when this finally settles down again. We will have lost a lot of good people and businesses. Racing has been suffering for longer than this period though – what ideas do you think could be implemented to build the sport up from where it is?
Yes it’s going to be different but in what way nobody knows. We are all waiting to know when racing will start up again but it’s not looking like anytime soon. I think from a motocross point of view it’s going to be down to the promoters and MA. Our sport needs to be pushed and pushed hard on the return of normal life. At the end of the day I’m only a rider and have no control in this area but hope it gets back up and running again.
No rider (with the exception of Josh Green and arguably Dylan Long), does anywhere near as a complete a job at getting themselves out there and seen through social media and quality content deals – something that is arguably more import right now than ever. Is that a part of the business of racing that you enjoy or is it just something you see as necessary?
It’s a very difficult question as I have seen the way of racing change very much in my time thanks to technology and I wouldn’t say for the best. Before as a racer we would be paid to wear someone’s brand or logo at races. Now we need to on top of this create video and photo content for the same deal. I see the younger generation not willing to put time into this area for sponsors but then sit on their phones for hours achieving nothing. Times are changing and I’m just trying to keep up and I see this as a very important part of any athlete’s job. Marketing tools; it is why we all get paid!
And finally, do you still have your eye on a run in the US or Europe again?
To be completely honest, no. I have had a great career racing around the world and I’m not young anymore. The level of the world championship at the moment is so high and takes a lot of sacrifice that I have given in the past. I have new goals and races I want to compete in heading into the future.