KTM-backed teenager on his MX3 title-winning ProMX campaign.
This year has been something of a defining season for Western Australian Kayden Minear, as the 15-year-old KTM racer proved to be a revelation in his first full campaign in the MX3 class of the Penrite ProMX Championship, then became one of the highest-scoring riders from Team Australia at the FIM Junior Motocross World Championships in Finland last month. He features in our latest Profiled.
The youngest of three brothers, Minear won two Australian Junior Motocross Championship titles on a 65cc and an 85cc small-wheel at the 2019 event at Gillman in South Australia. After the covid-induced year off racing in 2020, he decided to make a mammoth jump to the 250cc four-stroke and race the MX3 class in the shortened 2021 ProMX Championship.
As a then-13-year-old, he had to receive a special exemption from Motorcycling Australia (MA) to compete at that level, but it didn’t take him long to shine and the youngster surprised many by finishing last year’s three-round MX3 championship in third place, but the fire had been lit and the teenager from Two Rocks was hungry for more.
Eager to step things up, Minear and his mum moved to Victoria and joined Ross Beaton’s Pro Formula program this year, training with a number of Australia’s top pro-lever riders, including his main MX3 title rival this year, Cambell Williams.
“That’s one fast group of riders on Ross’s program, so it really makes you have to step up and give 100 percent to be competitive,” Minear commented. “It’s funny, though, because even though I raced and trained a lot with Cambell, we’ve never really gone head-to-head.
“We always seem to have opposite days of form, where one of us will be faster than the other and vice versa. I’m sure the time will come where we’ll both be fighting for the win, but we’re mates and there’s no tension between us.”
The 2022 ProMX Championship saw Minear start with a subdued sixth equal at his local training track of Wonthaggi, not helped by an ECU issue on the starting line of one of the races. He bounced back to win the second round at Mackay, then after another rough day at Wodonga, claimed an emphatic 1-1 round win at Gillman.
“Even though it was a lot sandier than usual this year, there’s something about Gillman that I’ve always gelled with and I had the perfect day there, winning qualifying, then both motos,” he continued. “I have a lot of family in South Australia and they all came out to support me, so it was pretty special.”
Despite finishing off the podium at both Coffs Harbour and QMP, Minear came into the final round at Coolum with the points lead and confident that he could get it done.
“Growing up in WA, sand tracks are our specialty, so I felt at home on the Coolum track right away,” he explained. “I knew what I had to do there to win the title and I didn’t even feel like I was trying too much, but was just flowing nicely with the track. Winning the championship there was amazing – it’s the highlight of my career so far, for sure.”
Soon after racking up the MX3 championship, Minear flew to Finland to represent Australia at the FIM Junior Motocross World Championship. The quality of the track and the level of riding were both eye-opening, though.
“Getting to represent your country is one of the coolest experiences and the WZ Racing set-up we were part of was insane, but the track wasn’t worthy of hosting a world-class event like that,” Minear said.
“It was a hardpack track that they’d dragged beach sand into – we were finding kids’ beach toys in the dirt during our track walk – and the up ramps had big chunks of road base in them. It was one of the worst tracks I think I’ve ridden at that level.”
Despite struggling with the track, oppressing humidity and the depth of the talent in the field, Minear rode well to finish 9-8 for seventh overall and was the equal-highest placed Australian rider.
“It’s not that there’s a small group of insanely fast riders, there are about 20 fast guys all in the same second in qualifying,” he reflected. “It was a tough weekend and I made some mistakes and struggled to hold onto the 125 for two 30-minute motos. It was really humid over there and when I came in I had to get dad to hold my bike as I was stumbling around with exhaustion.”
Now that the 2022 season is in the books, Minear’s now focused on 2023, where he aims to again set his sights higher by competing in the MX2 class.
“I haven’t signed anything for next year yet, but I want to go racing against the older boys in MX2,” he revealed. “I believe I’ll learn more battling in that pack than going out and racing the MX3 class again.
“If I race MX2, I’d be aiming for a top-five result. In training I’ve proven I can run the pace of those guys and I want to make a statement that the young kids coming through can shake things up against the older boys.”