Interview: Freddie Bartlett on the EMX125 series, being based in Sweden and more

Image: Nigel McKinstry | Interview: Andy McKinstry

It is his second year in the EMX125 class but Freddie Bartlett is learning all the time and has improved a lot since last season. He has good pace but starts have been holding him back. Bartlett lives in Sweden so has plenty of travelling to do to get to every GP but the family are always optimistic and happy to be in the paddock.

We caught up with Bartlett in Italy to discuss his career and more. You can listen, watch or read below:

GateDrop: Freddie, let’s go back to where it all started really, I think you were born in Sweden, then came back to England fairly young and you’re now living in Sweden again. Can you talk to me a little bit about the start of your career?

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Barlett:  So, yeah, I started riding a little bit in Sweden but then we moved back to England when I was three. So I lived there until I was seven and done some British Championship races and then some races in Europe as well, the Junior World Championships. I won the World Championships on the 50. And then yeah, when I was eight or something, we moved back to Sweden and then just rode, yeah, 65, 85 and now 125 in Sweden. It’s been good, just a bit far to travel but yeah, it’s been good.

GateDrop: Obviously you were a rookie in the EMX125 class last year, but like you touched on there, when you were young you were racing in Europe. For whatever reason, quite a lot of Brits don’t do that. Obviously with you living in Sweden, that might make it easier or harder, I don’t know, but anyway, the ambition was always there to race in Europe. So do you think that helped you whenever you came in the EMX125 last year, even though it’s still a step up?

Bartlett: Yeah, definitely. I started riding outside of Sweden when I was nine, I think, but in Sweden you have to be 12 to ride outside of Sweden. So I had to change to a Danish license. So I rode for Denmark until I was 12 and then when I was 12, we changed back to a Swedish license.

GateDrop: Last year, obviously, EMX125 championship, one of the youngest riders in the class last year. You sort of had two parts of the season, you started off with the German based team, Kosak. How was that, first of all, to start with?

Bartlett: Yeah, it was okay, but we decided to part ways with them because we felt it was better to do it by ourselves for the last half of the year. So yeah, we did that and then I got quite a good result in Matterley Basin. And now I’m riding for Motivation Motorsports and they help a lot, really good. They’re making me better and more ready for the races.

GateDrop: Like you touched on last year for the second half of the season, you were full privateer. What was it like being a full privateer? And obviously you’re driving to every GP from Sweden, quite a lot of miles. What’s that like? I’m sure for your dad it’s very hard coming from Sweden…

Bartlett: So, yeah, for the last half, we only did two or three races. So Matterley was a long way, but yeah, we are used to the driving. So that’s a bad thing with living in Sweden, but you also, then you appreciate it a lot more.

GateDrop: This year with the Motivation Motorsport KTM team, how did that ride come about and how much are they helping you? And it must feel good to have a little bit of support behind you.

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Bartlett: Yeah, we just started talking to them, yeah, just as friends. And then they offered a ride last year for this year. It’s the best team out there for this year. So we just couldn’t say no. They do everything for me.

GateDrop: Obviously you were a rookie in the EMX125 Championship last year. How did you find it all being a rookie?

Bartlett: No different to being in the 85’s. Just, yeah, of course, it’s a lot more talent in the 125’s, but you get used to it. And then the more years you do, the better results you get.

GateDrop: This is obviously your second full season. How have you found it racing the championship this year? Having the experience of last year behind you, that must help…

Bartlett: Yeah, it was really, yeah, it’s been good. Just struggling some races in the mud. I can’t ride ruts. I’m a sand rider, so it’s quite hard. But Sardinia, I was riding in fourth easily. In the sand, it’s a very good point for me. But yeah, in the mud, I struggle a little bit in the deep ruts. But yeah, the mud, you have to get used to it, especially this year.

GateDrop: Just on the level of the EMX125 series, obviously some of the best young talent in the world race it. But I feel like you have showed good pace this year. But as everyone knows, a good start is key and staying out of trouble and being at the front the first couple of laps certainly makes life easier… So if you can do that more often, you should put yourself in a good position for results.

Bartlett: Yeah, I have the speed to be top ten every race. But when you get starts back in thirtieth, yeah, it’s a struggle.

GateDrop: As you touched on there, obviously, you’re living in Sweden, and you said you’re good in the sand. Do you get to ride that much hardpack during the week, is that something maybe in the future you’re hoping to do? Obviously difficult being in Sweden…

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Bartlett: That’s the thing I need to start doing. I’m in Sweden in the winter, riding in minus 15, and just frozen tracks with spikes. So we have a hard, tough winter out there. So of course, I need to be going down to Spain, Italy, France in the winter. But yeah, you can’t do everything.

GateDrop: What are the plans for the rest of the season, obviously, as you said, probably be consistent top ten guy in EMX and then the Junior World Championship, is that something you think you’ll be racing as well? It’s obviously in central Europe this year, so that’s going to be probably bigger than usual…

Bartlett: That’s it. We’re going to be doing the Junior World Championships. That’s sand as well, so that’s good.

GateDrop: Any plans for the future, you’re already quite tall compared to last year. Thinking about the 250, or is that still up in the air? You’ll think about it at the end of the year?

GateDrop: Yeah, we don’t know yet. We’ll see in a couple of months, I expect.