Interview: Brad Todd on signing with I-Fly JK Yamaha and his GP debut this weekend!

It’s an exciting time to be Brad Todd as he’s  recently signed with the I-Fly JK Yamaha team for the 2018 season. However, he will make his debut with the team this weekend at the French GP where Todd will make his MX2 World Championship debut.

As it stands Todd will race the EMX250 series with the team next year but if he shows good speed then you never know, he might even race the GP’s. It’s good to see another fast Brit will be in the GP paddock and he has the speed for some good results.

We decided to catch up with Todd before he makes his Grand Prix debut this weekend to talk about his move to the I-Fly JK Yamaha team.

Gatedrop: Brad, it’s recently been announced that you’ve signed with the I-Fly JK Yamaha team. How did the deal all fall into place?

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Brad Todd: It was about two months ago that I was speaking to them. We were slowly talking about trying to get a deal done and it all came together. There was a deal and it’s a lot better than I’ve ever had so I had to jump to it when I got the chance. I didn’t sign the contract until the day of Foxhills which was a bit daunting but it all got done in the end.

Gatedrop: Of course the team is an Italian team, how do you feel about that and a possible language barrier?

Brad Todd: To be honest I don’t think it will bother me too much. Clinton and Dicky, they will be there to kind of guide me through. The Italian mechanic, he’s going to be some sort (laughs). He knows a bit of English so I don’t think there’s much to worry about.

Gatedrop: Ryan Houghton is with the team this year of course racing the MXGP World Championship. Did you speak to him about the team and did he have good things to say?

Brad Todd: I never really spoke to him about the team to be honest. He’s obviously had quite a good year this year. I was watching him and he’s working a lot with Dicky and that. His results when he’s in the sand and stuff is pretty good. He’s trying to grab a point in the MXGP Championship but I know that at some of the British tracks they’re hard to pass so if you don’t get a start, you don’t get a result. The ones where he does get the start, he holds his own.

At Blaxhill I think it was I noticed him and he was riding well at quite a tough track. He didn’t tire or anything so he has his training down well and he’s definitely fit enough so I will be looking forward to that. Actually getting some guidance on the fitness side of it rather than doing my own thing.

Gatedrop: This year in the British Championship, I would say a lot was expected of you coming into the season. You ended up tenth in the MX2 championship. How would you reflect on your season looking back at it?

Brad Todd:  Yeah it started off pretty unreal to be honest with you, didn’t it? It started off mint with the podium at the start of the year, then I went away and I broke my scaphoid at Valkenswaard during a first corner crash. There wasn’t anything I could do there because of that. For about 5 or 6 weeks, something like that anyway, I was racing with it.

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I still managed to get one good result winning an MX Nationals but after that I just had a lot of issues with the bike. I don’t really know what happened with that side of it. I wouldn’t like to put it all on the bike because some of the results I put down weren’t good enough, I was just not riding well or having a good day. With the new team everything is going to be a fresh start, everything is going to be new and I will be able to do all the testing I need. I think we’re in for a really good year next year.

Gatedrop: I see you’ve started riding the Yamaha. What’s your first impressions with the bike and how does it compare to the Husqvarna?

Brad Todd: Yeah, I was really impressed. The way it turns compared to the Husqvarna is unreal. You can just keep it in the corner whereas sometimes with the Husqvarna it would almost want to jump out of a rut. It surprised me with the power too to be honest.

I rode the race bike and it was quick.. It’s a strong bike and I feel like the bike suits me more, I can ride how I want to ride around the corners. I spent last Wednesday doing the Planet suspension and I think we have the bike pretty dialled. I’m looking forward to seeing how I can do.

Gatedrop: Your first race with the team is going to be this weekend in France racing the MX2 World Championship. You must be excited for your first GP and what’s your expectations going into it?

Brad Todd:  I am really looking forward to it. It was on the contract that we had everything sorted with the bike and everything but they just didn’t have a rider so even though they knew it was short notice they asked me and I jumped on it (laughs). They said there’s no expectations and that they needed someone to fill in the spot. It’s nice because there’s no pressure or anything like that. I can do it for my own pleasure and for the experience.

It’ll be a big jump but a nice way to do it rather than doing it and expecting results. However, I am going to try for a top twenty if I can but I’m not really expecting it. It certainly won’t be easy anyway. I think the level them boys are running is completely different to the Europeans. You see guys winning EMX races, battling for top fifteen or something. I can’t really say where I will be, I’ve only ever qualified second in an EMX250 series. I’ve never actually finished a race in a good position so I can only hope for a top twenty. That’s what I will be aiming for.

Gatedrop: In the UK most the British Championship races are mostly sand, have you rode much in the hard pack this year and I’m guessing you’ve been riding lots of hard pack this week to prepare?

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Brad Todd:  Yeah, I’ve been down here since Tuesday to test the race bike. I’ve been hammering hard pack all this week. I’m flying over tomorrow (Friday) so yeah, I’ll smash the hard pack. Most the time I’ve been training on sand and I feel like I’m more of a sand rider but every time I’ve been on hard pack I’ve seem to always get a result from somewhere.

Italy at the start of the year was weird, I wasn’t really expecting much. I was just hoping I’d qualify and then I put in the second quickest time. I only practiced hard pack on that week before the race so I feel like I should be good on hard pack. It’s something I’m really looking forward too.

Gatedrop: For next year, I think it’s confirmed you’ll be doing the EMX250 Championship. What’s your goals for that series? Obviously the few rounds you’ve done this year should help you!

Brad Todd: Yeah, as of now anything can happen. If I won in France this weekend I’d get a GP ride basically (laughs). Anything can happen yet but as of now it is the European series that I will be racing. I’ve done the two rounds this year so at least I know what to expect coming into it. I know what the level of the racing is.

I am going to try for a top five in the championship, I think that’s the goal for the championship, I can’t remember what it said on the contract but I’m sure it said if I’m top five in the series then I can do selected GP’s so top five is the goal for the championship.

Gatedrop:  Have you got any plans for the winter yet? I think you mostly stay in the UK to prepare for the season but with the JK team maybe you will go oversea to prepare and get up to speed?

Brad Todd: Yeah, this is the beauty with this team. I can kind of go anywhere I want almost because they have all the facilities and the budget and all that. I can go testing where I want. In November they’re talking about going training just purely on fitness and not actually riding on the bike in Spain. That’s going to be all new to me but it’s going to be nice having a change.

I’m going to be training with bigger named riders and stuff so I’ll be able to learn a lot more from them. Normally I just spend all my winter in Scotland riding in Tain. I’m not going to be able to do that much this year but it’s opening doors so I’m hoping it’ll bring on my riding.

Gatedrop: Your team mates aren’t all confirmed yet but it’s fairly certain Ken Bengtsson will stay. Are you looking forward to riding with the likes of him and the more experienced riders as you should learn a lot from them?

Brad Todd:  Yeah, I’m not exactly sure who’s going to be with the team. I think Ryan Houghton will be staying with the team. I’m not too sure about anyone else. Whenever I went to Belgium the week before Valkenswaard to train I saw a big difference totally in the level of practicing. From the likes of Gajser and all that there, they were practicing at Eindhoven.

There was just a higher level of practicing and you got more tired but you could see they were doing mad stuff and by the end of the day you were doing it too because you were learning off them. I’m not too sure about who’s riding on the team but when I am working with them I will obviously be learning from them. I will learn different ways of doing things and I will have a look into it.