After suffering devastating, life-threatening injuries following a horrific crash in 2021, Regan Duffy’s road to recovery has been nothing short of remarkable, as the gifted Aussie’s now ready to return to racing in 2023.
Words: Edward Stratmann | Lead Image: Regan Duffy
Part one of our chat focuses on the relentless and hugely driven Duffy’s incredible journey to get back to racing, how he’s feeling mentally and physically, what his goals are for 2023, his desire to head to MXGP and how valuable training under the guidance of Ross Beaton is.
Edward Stratmann: How are you feeling mentally and physically after your life-threatening injury? It must have been a long road back and an extremely challenging recovery process?
Regan Duffy: It was really difficult mentally for the first four months, it was really tough. It was the toughest thing I’d obviously ever gone through in my life. But I’ve come through the other side fine – just kept my head down and things got better. As I started to recover physically, I was able to get back on a pit bike and then slowly onto a big bike after about four months. I think that was when the mental side of things started to clear up a little bit – because obviously when you’re hurt as a racer, the one thing that’s on your mind is riding your bike and racing – so once I got back on the bike I was actually feeling a lot better straight away mentally so it all just went hand in hand.
ES: Great to hear you’re ready to go. The next step will be to test yourself racing. I know there’s a preseason race in January you’re doing. You must be feeling both nervous and excited about it?
RD: Yeah, definitely, I’ve got the AMX Open coming up next month in Wonthaggi, which will be a really good hit out. There’s going to be a lot of good guys there – guys that will definitely fill the top five in the championship next year. So it will be a great way to gauge myself and see where I’m at. I’m looking forward to it. I feel like it will be a weight off my shoulders a little bit. You never know where you’re truly at through a preseason or in training until you go to race.
ES: How’s training with Ross Beaton, Jed’s brother, at Pro Formula? Sounds like it’s a terrific program with a good crew of elite riders.
RD: The vibe is awesome on Ross’ program. It’s definitely a tough gig I would say, you definitely get put through your paces. I believe it’s the best program in the country and I’m stoked to be on it especially with the likes of Jed obviously, Kyle Webster and then the younger guys like Kayden Minear and Alex Larwood.
Honestly, there’s sometimes up to 15 of us down there and every single one they’re all hitters so it’s an awesome spot to train at. Ross is so knowledgeable with everything on the track, off the track and to do with racing. It’s awesome to be able to learn from him.
ES: Congratulations on the new team deal with GasGas. How have you found the bike? Has it been a smooth adaptation?
RD: Thank you for that, it’s been really good actually, it’s been a smooth transition. The bike feels great, I’ve stepped straight back onto my original suspension settings from when I was racing with in the 2021 season. I felt comfortable straight away, the bike feels great, so I’m looking forward to moving forward with my riding and training and then just ticking along seeing what else we can make better and trying out a few different things. But for a preseason base point, I’m really happy with it.
ES: What were your thoughts looking back on your impressive 2021, as you really hit the ground running in the opener at Wonthaggi, were instantly up the front, had unbelievable speed all day and grabbed a win in the second moto?
RD: It wasn’t so much of a surprise to me as such like some people might think, as I said before, being on Ross’ program, there’s a lot of really good guys on there so I had a good gauge of where I would be coming into that so I was quite confident. I had really good speed, I think everyone knew that I was going to be really good with the raw speed, but I think my fitness and strength sort of surprised some people that weekend. I’m looking forward to getting back to that point, which I definitely feel I’ll be able to do. I’m already in a really good spot at the moment in preseason and I’m only going to get a lot stronger, so I’m stoked.
ES: You had a deal with F&H Kawasaki before the injury to go race MX2 so I’d imagine you still plan to head to Europe when you can?
RD: Yeah, I’m just doing everything I can this year to hopefully get a decent ride in the future, heading into possibly the 2024 season in the GPs. It’s definitely my goal to head over there, it’s been a dream of mine since I was a little kid so if I can make things happen in Australia next year then I’d love to fulfil that dream.
ES: Obviously when you head back, you’d probably skip the MX2 class and head straight to MXGP as you’ve been riding a 450 for so many years being a bigger bloke? This puts you in a unique position as you can be a bit more patient and not worry about the MX2 age rule like many others do.
RD: It’s really good to be in this position actually. I’ve probably been over six foot since I was 16 then I jumped straight on the 450 so being the bigger bloke I am, it’s easier for me to ride the 450 I believe. I’m like 82 kilos now, which is on the heavy side for a 250 anyway. I feel like my style and technique suits a 450 more, I don’t like revving the bike or going too crazy, I like to try and keep it smooth and do everything correct so the 450 is good for me. Hopefully I can showcase that next year and put myself in a good position to maybe talk to some teams in Europe and go from there.
ES: Thoughts on the Australian series this year, it’s looking like it’ll be a stacked class in 2023, especially with you returning and Beaton coming back? Is the aim to be right up there in title contention?
RD: I just want to be consistent next year. I would love to be top three every weekend, that’s a realistic goal for me. I think as long as I stay healthy and stay consistent, I feel like I’ll be battling for podiums. And I’d love to put myself in a position to go for wins when it comes about.
As for thoughts on the season and the class being so stacked, I think it’s one of the best classes in 450 that I’ve ever seen. You know nothing compares to it within the last five to 10 years. There’s obviously been a few exceptions with guys that are world class that have come through but to have possibly five to seven world class guys just in the 450 class is kind of unheard of.
Stay tuned for part two, which will be released soon.