With Wilvo Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing riders Romain Febvre and Aleksandr Tonkov and Ice One’s Tyla Ratray opting to rest ahead of the opening GP, Waters ventured to Hawkstone Park in England to experience one last ‘European track’ before the start of the 2014 GP season. With his feet having barely touched the ground since landing into Europe early in the New Year, Todd, together with team-mate Tyla Ratray and the Ice One squad, have embarked on a whistle-stop European tour.
Husqvarna Motorcycles spoke to Todd at the Hawkstone International to find out more about his busy pre-GP programme, his plans for the opening GP in Qatar and how he’s adjusting to life in Europe…
Todd, firstly how have you like racing at Hawkstone – One of the most iconic tracks in Europe?
Todd: “It’s been cool, really cool. I guess I got a little excited in the opening moto and thought I could win the race on lap three. I felt great, started moving forwards, and then started making mistakes. I ended up having a pretty good crash, which put me out of the race. I settled down after that, and enjoyed the day. It’s a pretty brutal track in places, but I was pleased with the way everything went. Getting to ride at another different European track is what being at Hawkstone was all about for myself and the team. We’ve done some great testing and raced four very different styles of tracks in the last four weeks, which is exactly what I’ve needed.”
You’ve been incredibly busy since arriving in Europe, how have the last ferw months with the Red Bull Ice One Husqvarna Factory Racing Team been?
Todd: “It’s been an incredible time since I landed in Europe. I started testing the day after I arrived from Australia, and I don’t feel like we’ve stopped racing, testing and travelling since. It’s been incredibly busy but it’s been great – exactly what I needed. We started in Spain, then went back to Belgium and then to our team photo-shoot, more testing, and our first race in Sardinia. Then it was off to Sicily, back up to Northern Italy, and now to Hawkstone in the UK. We’ve been all over the place. I’ve loved it – it’s been important for me to get stuck into racing over here.”
How have you been getting on with Antti Pyrhonen (Ice One Team Manager) and the guys in the team?
Todd: “The team have been incredibly welcoming towards me. I’ve been getting on well with everyone and to have a really experienced team manager like Antti is just great. Not only does he run a really tight ship but he’s also been there and done it, so he’s able to offer some great advice. It’s really reassuring to know that I have someone behind me that’s done well in GPs and is really focused on always improving things. He has a wealth of experience, and knows what it’s like as a rider. Everything is so well organised, it feels like everything is checked and double checked, which again is very reassuring.”
You’ve seen and experienced a lot in a relatively short period of time, is living and racing in Europe what you were expecting?
Todd: “I didn’t really try and work out what being in Europe full-time would be like. Of course I knew that the riders would be fast, and that it would probably be very different from living in Australia. There are so many things that are different to home, but that’s part of what our pre-GP programme has been all about – getting used to everything. Racing is racing, but living in another country is always different to what you know. It’s a shock, especially the language barriers. In Australia we’d drive for two days to a race and everything is the same as when we left home once we we’re there. In Europe everything changes, which is cool but it’s taking some getting used to.”
Were you able to get any advice from anyone, regarding how to best adjust to living in a new place with new people around you?
Todd: “I spent a bit of time talking with Ben Townley before I came over here. Obviously Ben’s lived in Europe and has been hugely successful racing outside of his home, so it was great to bounce some ideas off him. His advice was just to go with the flow and enjoy it, which I’m definitely doing so far. I’m really enjoying the fact that so much is different to back home. Getting the opportunity to try different foods, meet different people, getting to see all the great buildings. It’s made me realise just how young a country Australia is.”
Finally, this weekend sees the start of the 2014 Motocross World Championship, what is Todd Waters expecting from the GP of Qatar?
Todd: “It’s the start of a new chapter in my career, and I’m really looking forward to flying the flag for Australia and Husqvarna, learning, and as the championship unfolds showing people what I’m capable of. I know that it’s going to take some time to get to where I’m really feeling like I’m at home racing in the GPs. Chad Reed struggled to qualify for GPs early in his career, but by the end of that year he was a top-three rider. I’m just focusing on myself, and not making any unrealistic expectations. Everything’s gone well so far and I’m really enjoying myself. I can’t wait to experience my first GP with Husqvarna.”
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