Local-racer Todd Kellett will be returning to the HydroGarden Weston Beach Race Powered by KTM this weekend (October 19-21) to defend his crown following his back-to-back solo victories in the last two years.
With a big passion for the event that is close to his Langport home in Somerset, Todd and his brother Ty are once again lining up on the Weston-Super-Mare sands in a few weeks’ time. Kellett took an emotional victory after battling hard for the full three-hours in 2016, and with it taking the HydroGarden Weston Beach Race honours, as well as the HydroGarden Weston Beach Race Young Gun award, as he was aged just 19 years old.
2017 was a different race for Kellett, as the youngster had enjoyed a strong season in the Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship, finishing fifth overall in the series and enjoying his first race win at that level. He came into the Weston event with fitness and confidence, as he blasted away from the start and raced hard with David Knight to the chequered flag to clinch the victory for a second consecutive time.
Only twice in the event’s history has a solo rider achieved three consecutive wins – the last was Rob Meek in 1997. However, Kellett will be back this year in an attempt to do just that, although he says it will be incredibly tough, especially as he’s had a difficult season following injury.
“It’s been a tough season, and I’m getting there slowly but surely. I broke six vertebrae in December, and I didn’t really get on a bike until two weeks before the first Motocross European Championship round in Spain. I didn’t qualify there, which was sort of to be expected. It’s been a struggle from there onwards really,” said Kellett.
“I qualified for every European I did after that, and I had a few steady results in the British championship. I had some top 10s in the British, but I had some crashes here and there, plus some bike issues. It’s just been hard graft really. I had sixth overall at Assen in the EMX250 class just a few weeks ago and that’s actually my best result ever in the European championship, so I was really pleased with that.
“I was looking forward to the Foxhill round of the British Championship, as I felt I am getting back to where I need to be, but obviously, it was cancelled. I was up for it and wanted to race, but the decision was for the best, because the weather has been atrocious.”
Talking about Weston, Kellett explained that his injury is now healed and he’s training hard specifically for the event. The Somerset-star felt fit and strong last season, but this year will be different for him – he’s sure he can do the distance, but he’s lacked the intensity in the fight for fitness over the season, so it will be a case of seeing how it goes aboard his Verde Substance KTM machine.
“It’s certainly the goal (to win), but I’m not going to get above my station. It’s a gruelling event, and anything can happen so I’m not going to worry too much about that [winning three in a row]. I don’t think there are many people to have won five Westons in total, so that would be something I’d much rather look towards in the long-term. You can’t predict how the race will be, I’ll just see how it goes, I’ll do my best. I feel I’ve got the speed, the talent and the experience, so we’ll just go from there.”
Many riders have said they’ve learnt from Todd and the way he attacks the race, especially in the beginning, but he believes that a strategy can’t be predicted. Talking about the competition and he’s aware the battle will be on, whatever the pace of the race.
“There are a lot of things people could say they’ve learned from me like he does this, he does that, or he did that and had that bike and everything like that, but at the same time from 2016 to 2017 it was a very different race. I bided my time a lot in 2016, waited, waited, waited and then just went for it towards the end, whereas last year I had a totally different feeling that I could go from the get-go. I don’t think you can predict how it will be, you just have to wait until you’re in that situation and see how you feel.”
“I had planned not to go too hard until I had to last year, and in the end it was full gas from the start. It was just the feeling of how it would be. I don’t think you can read too much into other riders, it’s all down to experience and what happens on the day. I’m one of the youngest riders, but I’ve got quite a lot of experience at Weston – you just don’t know who will be up there. There’s a lot of great riders this year. It’s not a motocross race and we’ll see on the day.”
Kellett is renowned for racing both the quad class on Saturday and the solos on Sunday, a daunting idea for most with two gruelling three-hour events in a weekend. He hopes to be lining up for both again this year.
“I’d like to race the quads if I can. It relaxes me a bit and I quite like loosening myself up, finding my way around the track. I’d like to do the two-man with my brother and try to win it. I know David [Knight] has done the actual overall quad main event, but I don’t think that’s possible for me, so it would be good to try the two-man quad for a giggle with me brother.”
It’s a real family affair for the Kellett family, and they have a history at the race that stretches back for many years. Ty has impressively finished in the top 10 for the last three years, despite hardly having ridden before the event weekend. There will be a big crowd cheering the brothers on, and who knows, maybe it will be Trio Todd by the end of the weekend.
“Ty is also racing in the solos, he hasn’t done much racing this year, but it’s cool and special for us both to be racing – it’s local for us and there’s a lot of home support for us too. It’s a good crack.”
“My mum and dad raced Weston, it’s also not so far from home. I cycle down here quite a lot, it’s a fun route that’s around 30 miles. It’s a special place, a great atmosphere and an end of year show. A lot of people come here just to have a go.
“My mum and dad are always supporting us – I think a lot of people could take pointers from them, my dad pit crewing is quite special (laughs), but I wouldn’t want anyone else doing it. They are keen for us to do well, it’s a family thing, my girlfriend is helping too, with lots of friends and family. It’s a fun weekend – the results are nice, but sometimes you have so much stress throughout the season racing it’s good to ride something different and have fun.”