In-depth interview: Stuart Edmonds – race ready!

After a year without the British Championship running due to COVID-19, thankfully the series makes a return this weekend as the 2021 season will get underway at Culham.

We decided to catch up with Stuart Edmonds to get his thoughts on the season ahead – the Irish rider has been in Spain putting in a lot of hard work and training so feels in good shape heading into the 2021 which is a big positive.

GateDrop: Stuart, last year there was very little racing in the UK but it’s full steam ahead with the year ahead with the British Championship getting underway at Culham this weekend. How do you feel heading into a race weekend, you must be excited?!

Edmonds: Definitely. As you know last year I wasn’t too prepared coming into the British Championship. Obviously it ended up getting called off but we had the MX Nationals, I had little to no riding but it gradually got better throughout the year. After the first round of the MX Nationals last year I decided to kind of plan more for this year. I decided to go across to Spain and do a bit of training, get myself ready for action and prepare myself for the first round. To be sitting here talking to you with Culham at the weekend, it’s probably been the first time IN a long time I’ve been this ready for the start of a season.

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I’ve done a lot of testing and a lot of riding and we are in the final stages now of just getting little things done. I am really looking forward to it, I am going into this weekend to show the work I’ve been doing. After the weekend I’ll see what work I’ve still got left to do and we will go from there really, we will keep the pressure on.

GateDrop: Just on last year, obviously with no British Championship running and only 4 MX National races, how did that affect you? You must have been very disappointed by the lack of racing – how was it? You are so used to racing every year it must have been strange!

Edmonds: I actually moved across to the UK because of COVID-19 so I was trying to limit my travel as much as possible. Dylan and Anne took me in over there for a few weeks but when I got over there the decision was made to cancel the British Championship. I was gutted really, to be fair. But still to be able to do some racing was good, the few club races I did here was good. It kept me going a little bit but it was tough.

Usually you are so used to being busy every single weekend and then preparing for the next race. All of a sudden you then have a race one weekend and then you might have one in another month or even two months’ time so it was hard to get used too.

I managed to do some other things, I took up surfing and got myself a surfboard and kind of kept myself active that way. I was doing plenty of mountain biking too so I could keep my fitness up. I made sure to keep the ball rolling because I knew this year would come around and if I dropped the ball I knew it would be harder to come back this year.

It was tough not having lots of racing like a usual season but at the same time it was enjoyable as well because we were able to do some normal stuff and have time to ourselves as well.

GateDrop: How has your preparation been this winter? I see you were in Spain for quite a lot of time, how was prep for you over there and how long did you spend out there?

Edmonds: I had actually only planned to go for a month. Basically when I left after Christmas, Ireland went into a full lockdown again. Everything was a lot harder and stricter than it had been before. My family and my girlfriend, Sophie, they helped me to be able to stay over there. I pretty much put everything I had into staying there as well for as long as possible. Some of my sponsors and some other guys helped out as well because they saw the effort I was putting in and knowing full well that if I did come home, I’d be coming home to do nothing.

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To be able to go over there and stay there for twelve of thirteen weeks, I was able to do a Spanish Championship over there. It was good, really good and it was nice to just get out on the bike. It was nice to have plans every week and decent weather. It was a group effort on my behalf, it wasn’t just all me – my friends, family, and sponsors all helped out as well. It was the only way I could stay there.

When I did come home funnily enough, I planned to go home so I could get back into the UK to test the race engine. I had a race bike all ready to go and for the three weeks I was home, I was only able to ride it once and then I rode it on a test day too for a product we are doing. It just goes to show, I went from riding four days a week in Spain to riding twice in three weeks. Then I went to the UK and rode five days in a row so there was a massive difference with riding back home. It shows I made a good decision but we will have to wait and see if it’s all paid off.

Pic: Visual Media

GateDrop: I see you also raced the opening round of the Spanish series – how was that for you? Pretty good results at a slick hard pack track…

Edmonds: It was an amazing championship to do, to be fair. The layout was very much like a GP and the paddock was completely full, all the classes were full – some classes had more and you had to qualify. It was unreal, the track was an interesting track. It was a little bit tight in sections and then fast in other sections but it got super rough. To ride on Saturday and Sunday it was a massive impact on the body on Monday morning (laughs).

Just to give you a little bit perspective, it was a thirty-minute warm up then you had a thirty minute qualifying followed by another thirty minute qualifying race on the Saturday.  On Sunday we had a twenty-five minute warm up and two thirty-five minute races if you qualified so it was an experience, that’s for sure. Just to go straight from practicing to racing like that, it was nice to get it done.

There were a good few fast riders in it that kept you on your toes and I managed to finish seventh overall so I was quite happy with that. It was good to see how my word had been and how far I’ve come along in just the few weeks I was over there. Those lads obviously know those tracks as well so they’re not slow around them, it was nice to be able to battle with them and give my best.

GateDrop: During your time in Spain, I assume you rode at a lot of different practice tracks and I think there were a lot of GP guys out there around the same time, did you catch up with any out there and able to pick things up from them?

Edmonds: I managed to ride quite a lot of tracks and obviously Redsands looked after me, I spent most of my time there and down in that area. There were a few GP riders over there and I was able to pace myself a little bit but there wasn’t as many as there would usually be on a normal year because of the GP schedule being pushed back. I think a lot of them pulled back and decided to go a little bit later.

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It was nice to get out and ride and get a pace off some of them and then you can work from their lap times to see how I was getting on. When I first got there my lap times were around four or five seconds off one of the tracks compared to when I was leaving, I was able to drop my lap time by four or five seconds. It was nice to see that at the tracks and see the progress I was able to make over there. I have increased my speed, it would have been a little bit disheartening to stay at the same lap time.

GateDrop: You’ll be staying with the Apico Husqvarna team – that must have been a big relief with the pandemic hitting teams hard and riders on the lookout for rides!

Edmonds: The guys from Apico, Dylan and Anne are the owners of the Apico Husqvarna Racing and they’ve basically took me in as one of their own. They are always happy with what I’ve been doing and they see the work I put it. It’s been nice to be appreciated in the team. It’s one big family and we are all working together, everyone is appreciative of what we do. Dylan and Anne took me in last year with a room in their house and they’ve done the same this year.

If I need to come across for a week or two to train or even longer, they are allowing me to stay whenever I need to. It’s great to have them and they’re really busy with Apico Racing, they’ve been flat out throughout the pandemic with people ordering parts and doing up bikes and stuff like that. It’s been tough on them as well as they’ve been having to get stuck in themselves to keep everything rolling.

I think it’s the same for everyone, it’s the unknown of what’s coming next which is part of it. With Motocross being the way it is, it’s important to stay loyal to the people that help you and it’s important to remember people that help you in the bad times as well as the good. Apico have been really good to me and I hope it’s a relationship that can last for a long time.

GateDrop: A lot of the riders haven’t raced this year yet, some did do the British Masters but with you racing in Spain, that might give you a little bit of advantage? At the same time you must be nervous as well as very excited for this weekend?

Edmonds: I think riders have still been able to get on with their work. I managed to do the Spanish Championship and I just raced at Haverigg there at the weekend. I felt my speed was good there and I was progressing throughout the weekend.

I am really looking forward to the weekend, I just want to be out there to be a front runner and prove to everyone the speed that I have. I want to do it from the start for a change, a lot of the time I’m not able to get out as much as everybody else and train and ride as much as them. I don’t seem to hit my speed until like midway through a season so I managed to plan this year by putting quite a lot in and planning this in advance with my sponsors.

To know that I’ve come into this season with 60 hours of riding in Spain and a lot more hours in the UK, I am definitely a lot more confident than I have been the past few years. I am definitely looking at trying to put it on the podium as much as possible.

Pic: Visual Media

GateDrop: Just on the 2021 season and the British Championship – there’s some big names such as Simpson, Searle, Nicholls and Bobryshev to name a few. I guess the goal is to learn as much from the big boys as possible – have you got a target of what you want from this season?

Edmonds: The target is to try and get it on the podium as much as I can. It’s not going to be easy so I just want to get a podium firstly and once I get there I want to get it on the podium after that too. I’m not saying it’s going to be every single weekend but it’s a target of mine that I know I can do. It’s something that I know I have the speed for and that I’m capable of being able to run with them.

My biggest issues is starts and that’s something I’ve really been working on and it’s something we continue to work on as a team the last couple of weeks. Once I get them dialled in and I can consistently in the top five at the starts or even getting holeshots then I think the tables will turn. I know that I am a strong rider in a thirty minute moto – I do have a little bit of a sleep sometimes but I know that I am strong at the end of races. Once I’m up there and I can put myself at the front, I think I can hang it out with them and surprise a lot of people as well.

GateDrop: With McCormick and Barr moving into the MX1 class adding to the likes of Meara and yourself all the big Irish riders will be MX1 so I’m sure you are looking to battles with some of the local men from home?

Edmonds: Funny you should say that. Glenn and Jason were at Haverigg at the weekend. We were all banging bars together and it was great clean racing. It’s great to see so many riders moving up to the MX1 class now. The 450cc class is a bike you need to learn, it took me a long time to understand the 450cc and I’m still understanding it. It will be good and hopefully all the Irish riders can be at the top and keep the top ten results flowing.

I’m looking forward to racing against them and obviously Martin is no slouch in MX1.   He’s had some race wins, a lot of podiums on the MX1 bike in the past so he knows how to ride a 450cc. I am looking forward to it, I am enjoying it and I’m pretty sure them boys will be looking forward to getting back racing as well.

GateDrop: Obviously you’ve got the British Championship and MX Nationals planned this year – any other plans? Any GP’s or even some Ulster/Irish rounds once the racing here gets back underway?

Edmonds: At the minute I am focusing on the MX Nationals and the British Championships. I wanted to do some GP’s but with the amount of changes with the dates and stuff now, I don’t know what’s going to happen. Obviously with staying in Spain for long, any money I had that would have been going towards GP’s has went into staying and training in Spain instead. I need to get myself together, once the training schools can get back up and growing, if I can generate a bit of money to get an entry in for a GP then I will do it. I’d like to do Matterley Basin but it’ll on depend on the costing and the support I can get. I just have to think about doing the British and MX Nationals before I start thinking about GP’s.

If I can get back home for Irish races, I will definitely do a few of them as well if they run but I’m not too confident they will run championships this year. It’s a little bit late in the year and I don’t even think dates have been sorted yet. It would be nice for the racing back home, I think it’s important that people start racing back home as well and not be left the way they were last year.

GateDrop: You have a lot of experience now and obviously love racing. How many more years do you see yourself competing for?

Edmonds: Funny you should say that, there’s a lot of people asking me that. The way I see it is, I’ve been doing it for many years but if I’m still passionate about the sport and motivated to go faster, improve and results are getting better each year, then why should I stop? I’ve no aim of stopping next year or the year after and if I keep going the way I am – enjoying it and passionate about it then I may as well keep racing as much as I can. For now I am just concentrating on this year and making sure I get everything that I want and my goals ticked off.

Interview: Andy McKinstry

Pics: Visual media