They don’t come much tougher than Brad Anderson.
The Verde KTM man had a scary crash at the Hawkstone International in February, causing the race to be red flagged immediately with Anderson knocked unconscious and his face very bloodied, battered and bruised.
As the riders headed back to the gate, the medics and ambulance rushed to Anderson’s aid, who had been lying motionless on the side of the track. It took a long time for the medics to get a now councious Brad onto the stretcher and everyone there knew it was serious as he got taken away in the ambulance and rushed off to hospital.
But, amazingly, just last week, less than four weeks after the crash, Anderson made his comeback at the first round of the British championship and was immediately competitive again and he is now looking forward to the British GP next weekend to begin the defence of his European two-stroke title.
We caught up with the ageless Anderson to get the latest after his crash, and his thoughts on the first round of the British championship.
How are you after the crash? Do you remember what happened and can you take us through the events?
Yeah, I got a good start at Hawkstone on the two-stroke and me and Jed Beaton, I made a mistake around the outside and he was coming up the inside and we had a little touch the Jed came off and I went out wide and ended up in the deep stuff, so I tried to throttle it to keep going but it ended up after than I didn’t know what happened, it (the crash) knocked us out but I saw a video on it and it showed nearly exactly what I could remember to that point.
It was a tiny crash to be fair, I’ve had a lot bigger ones! You can’t really tell in the video if the back wheel hit us in the face or the mouth. I was knocked out and then came round a bit and realised my helmet was smashed and my face was in a mess, so I was rushed to hospital and I had a full body scan and most of it came back okay.
I had a broken nose, I had seven stitches in my eye, four in my lip and a big burn on my leg – I don’t know how the burn got on my leg! I was quite lucky in one respect and and unlucky in another.
The flagger waved the red flag straight away when you went down and you were down a long time, were you aware of the worry people had at that time and the length of time it took to get you onto the stretcher?
To be fair I didn’t know really know what was going on because I wasn’t really all there at the time, I had been knocked out and was wondering what was going on. Afterwards I spoke the clerk of the course and he put the flag straight up because he saw the state of my face and he knew it takes a lot for me to stay down injured because normally I am the first one up to get back going.
I think a lot of people were worried because I was down there a long time and it took a long time to sort us out and stuff, I would just like to thank everyone. No-one likes to be in that position when you are waiting for the race to restart but I think a lot of them knew I was in a bad way.
After you got to the hospital, were there any thoughts about not racing or were you fine once you realised you were relatively okay?
As soon as I heard the results of the scan that everything was alright, everyone was saying that it’s about time you give it up, but I said I’m not done yet, I’m not finished yet! It obviously puts a bit of doubt in you, but once you get back riding and get your confidence you don’t think about it. It’s just one of those crashes you have and you try to get over. It shouldn’t have really happened but it’s one of them things.
You were racing the 250 two-stroke with the 250fs that day, obviously you didn’t get much of a chance to compare but how did you find it competing against them on the two-stroke?
It was a real good line-up of GP riders and I had a really good start and got passed by some good riders, I think ( the crash) was only four or five laps in but I had felt really good and was going well. I was looking forward to having a good battle with the 250s, I didn’t know where I would end up or anything but I felt quite good but it happened that quick so we didn’t really get to see how I was going to do or perform, so really the British championship was my first big race back!
How did you feel going into that with the injuries? Were there any negative affects from that or did you feel quite good considering?
My head is alright, my lips isn’t too bad, it’s more my eye and my nose with breathing. My eye was a bit droopy, there’s a chunk out of it , where they’ve sewn it up together, so when I lift my brow it’s tight and hard to lift my eye up at the moment.
Does that affect your vision or concentration when you are racing?
Not really, I just try to think about what I’m doing, when I’ve got the red mist I don’t think about anything other than trying to win or pass the person in front of us! (Laughs).
On the British ( at FatCat) I read you said you had an 8th and 12th despite two DNF with running out of fuel! The track looked pretty rough and tough, how did you find the whole day?
Coming into qualifying it was wet and I’m in with the 450s on my two-stroke which is so hard to start with, I had a bad qualifying and so I had a bad pick for the gate. I think I was 30th out of the gate but I was in race mode and started moving forward and I think I got to eighth place and seventh adm sixth were right in front of us and I ran out of petrol. The 2019 has slightly smaller tank than the 2018s and we didn’t really know that and thought we had enough and obviously we didn’t.
We made sure everything was topped up for race two and I didn’t start my bike until I was on the gate and ready to go and the same thing happened again. I had got myself up to sixth which was really good on the two-stroke against all them lot then with half a lap to go in the exact same spot it stopped again! I had my hands in my head thinking, ‘what do we have to do.’ I ended up going from sixth to 12th in that race but all in all I rode really well but obviously the results don’t show how hard I rode!
Do you think with the track being so heavy that meant you were using more fuel?
Yeah with the 450s, when you grab a handful you can jump the bumps, but with it being that heavy I had to try and ride them and keep the momentum off the corners which was really hard! But I enjoyed riding and pushing on my two-stroke.
The British GP is just over a week away now and bit earlier than usual but I’m sure you are looking forward to that and running the number one plate – or will you with the new name of the series?
Yeah I always look forward to the British GP just having all the fans getting behind you. We have had a bit of bad weather just leading up to this weekend but I have seen pictures of Matterley and it looks good, it looks dry. But it’s hard getting out practicing to get ready for Matterley just with the weather.
But I’m looking forward to it, I would prefer to run number 60 because it just seems I have a big burden on my back but the team and KTM Europe want us to run number one so I will be running number one again this year and everyone will be trying to gun for us! (laughs)
Last year everyone was gunning for you and you came out on top, even if you were riding with an injury in the last round, it looked tough to finish those races and clinch the title?
Yeah obviously the year before I was never off the podium and last year it was difficult, it was hard to win the championship. I got an injury then another injury coming into the last round when I broke my finger.
It was a jumpy track which was hard on my hand but I knew what I had to do, just two top nines in both races, I just controlled it really. The first race I think it was fifth I got, I just got my head down and did the best I could, the race on the Sunday obviously wasn’t as good but we did it and that was the main thing. Hopefully this year it can be like the year before and we can get on the box a bit more often!
You’ve been racing Pro for a long time now, but you seem to be able to keep your speed and motivation and still win titles! How do you keep your drive and motivation and keep that right hand on the throttle back!
Well it’s hard, I haven’t got another profession job-wise, so I keep all my effort into being fit and on top of my game and I love the sport so that’s why I keep with it. Obviously there will come a day when I’ll have to look for a job and have this as just my hobby but I still have loads of determination, you only get out what you put in and hopefully we can wrap the championship up again, it would be fantastic to get it for the third year running!