Todd Waters interview - Qatar and Thailand??
Interview Friday 20th December 2012 By www.motoonline.com.au
When Waters went bar-to-bar with eventual 2012 MX1 champion Josh Coppins during the Monster Energy MX Nationals, the Cairns-born lad’s stocks skyrocketed. With a gaggle of teams hunting his signature to spearhead their team for 2013, Waters found he was spoilt for choice.
Finally the dust and speculation settled and Waters revealed via Instagram that he’d signed with KTM and come a full circle after spending his junior career with the Austrian manufacturer.
We caught up with Waters to see how he’s going with the new bike, and find out the reasons behind his change of colours.
How’s the new bike going, mate? Are you loving it?
Yeah, I’ve had the new 450SX-F for a couple weeks so far; apart from bars and a pipe it’s pretty much stock, but it’s awesome. Usually you get given one of the previous rider’s bikes to practice on until the new year, but the KTM team is all-new so everything is fresh. The team is starting to import a bunch of trick parts and suspension from the European teams, so things will really heat up when we start testing in mid-January.
Because Kirk [Gibbs] and I are both based in south-east Queensland all our testing will be done here, which will be nice and easy. In Europe all the teams are a lot more mobile and I think that’s the direction KTM wants to take here too. They’ll build a truck for the nationals and have a smaller PanTech for the local races and testing. It’ll be a cool set-up.
How’s the team structure looking?
Rob Twyerold will be the team manager and he’s so excited to be back racing. He’s been with KTM for a long time and for him to be back in the main job is awesome. He’s won championships and I think to see someone return to the sport like this proves he wants to be here. My mechanic will be Ryan Deckert, who was Brenden Harrison’s mechanic from JDR. He’s a good kid and we get on really well.
A lot of people have questioned your move from Motul Pirelli Suzuki, as you really seemed to thrive under Jay Foreman’s guidance. What was the clincher behind the KTM move?
It was a hard decision, don’t get me wrong. I feel like we made so much progress throughout the MX Nationals and that’s what made it so hard. There’s not one thing you can point out that Suzuki did wrong. I’ve copped a lot of flak for leaving and Jay was a bit disappointed, but Suzuki didn’t have the budget to match what KTM offered me.
I rode KTM for most of my professional career, so it’s not like it’s a big step into the unknown; they got me into pro racing and I can walk into the factory and know everyone. It’s like I never left. I guess the clincher for me was the opportunity to race both for KTM and to put my toe in the water in Europe as well.
It was a childhood dream of mine to be a racer for Motorex KTM, and now that I’m their number-one rider for 2013, it’s really special to see how far I’ve come. After the Motocross of Nations this year I’m keener than ever to get back there and KTM offered me the opportunity to race a number of GPs as long as I fulfil my contractual obligations in Australia and New Zealand first.
I guess there’s been a bit of redemption for you too. In the past you’ve been outspoken about how much teams pay overseas riders to contest the series instead of paying the Aussie guys what they’re worth.
Definitely. It’s crazy to look back and think that I didn’t really ride any faster this year, but I just managed to stay injury-free. But to get paid from then to what I’m getting paid now is a big jump. It’s shown me that the guy who runs second to the Jay Marmonts and Josh Coppins only gets a bit more than half of the money, which is just crazy. The gap is huge and I think that’s something that needs to change.
Just to take a quick step back, you mentioned that part of your KTM deal was the opportunity to race some GP rounds. What rounds are you likely to hit up next year?
I’d like to do first couple in Thailand and Abu Dhabi because the Europeans don’t know them and I feel the playing field would be more level. Because I’m contracted to race the New Zealand Motocross Nationals as well, it might not happen until the mid-season break, or even after our outdoor season. I can’t miss what I’m contracted to do, but as long as it all fits in, I’m free to do as many as I want.
You’ve obviously got a taste of the GPs after this year’s MXoN, where you actually passed Blake Baggett and held him off for a bit. Has that experience deepened your hunger to race overseas?
I’m not content to just run as the number one guy in Australia. My main goal now is to go to Europe within a couple years, and the MXoN has only made me hungrier to get back there. The MXoN was an eye-opening experience for sure. It made me realise that yeah, the top handful of guys are insanely fast, but the rest are only human and it’s not unrealistic to battle with them.
I proved that when I came from 25th to pass Blake Baggett for fifth in one of my races. I made a mistake on the last straight and both Baggett and Justin Barcia passed me before the finish, but it gave me a lot of confidence, especially as I was riding a borrowed bike and those guys had their race bikes shipped over.
I think it really showed the level we’re riding at the moment now, and even though I was pissed at getting passed at the end, I think that was the best race of my life.
Wouldn’t disagree with you there, mate! Finally, what are your plans for the Christmas break? You’re up in Cairns at the moment, yeah?
Yeah, I’m back in Cairns hanging out at the lakes, having barbecues, chilling with mates and doing some trailriding. I’m still riding motos, but it’s more about having a bit of downtime and fun at the moment, so I don’t burn myself out next year. When the New Year clicks over we’ll get serious and get stuck into the testing again.
Great stuff. Enjoy the time off, bud. Catch you early next year!
Sounds good, thanks mate.