Features 4 Apr 2024

Five Questions: Luke Clout

Former MX1 champion details his confidence and recent bike changes heading into Horsham.

Following years of setbacks and injuries, former MX1 champion Luke Clout is looking refreshed and revitalised as Empire Kawasaki’s marquee MX1 entry. Clout and the team have recently made strides in the development of the all-new 2024 KX450, which was proven by winning the Gympie round of the Sunshine State MX Series last weekend. With his confidence high heading into this weekend’s second ProMX round at Horsham, we got in touch to ask him Five Questions.

Image: Foremost Media.

Why did you decide to switch to Empire Kawasaki this year?

I’d been at Monster Energy CDR Yamaha for a few years, and after going through some injuries and a lot of downtime, I needed a change and a fresh start. Empire reached out to me, and Kawasaki has a big vision moving forward and I liked the idea of it. I liked the idea of being the 450 guy for the first year of Empire’s plans as Kawasaki wants to build for the future and possibly provide more support. I wanted to be that guy to help them get there, get them up to the similar spec of those top teams in the pits. The deal all fell into place, and I’m really enjoying the change.

What changes have you made both to the KX450 and your training programme after Wonthaggi?

Round one was a ‘new everything’ for me – a new team, new bike, new season – so we just needed to go to Wonthaggi and see where we were at. Realistically, if I look back at it, it wasn’t a bad weekend. We had some good speed, the team ran really smoothly and I gelled really well with the environment around me. Because we’ve got a whole new bike, we were a bit off with the bike set-up, which we’d kind of expected – if we’d got it right straight away it would’ve been a miracle. In the three weeks since, we’ve had a lot of good support from Showa and they provided us some new settings, and we’ve made heaps of progress. All of the bike changes have been focused on the suspension and I haven’t really changed my training programme. I personally feel really, really good – I’m healthy, and I feel like I’ve stepped up to another level again over the past few weeks. We’re in a great spot right now.

How much of a confidence booster was your winning performance at the MX Farm Sunshine State MX round last weekend?

Yeah, I finished Gympie with 1-2-1 result against some of the best national riders. It was awesome and it shows what I can do when I’m comfortable. We’d only just received the new suspension settings from Showa, so we bolted them in, and the first time I tried them was on race day. We made more adjustments through the day and the bike just kept getting better and better. I’m riding like myself again and to have a really good race at Gympie on a hard-pack track that’ll probably be similar to what we’ll see at Horsham has me excited for this weekend.

Image: Foremost Media.

What are your expectations heading into Horsham this weekend?

We’ve got quite a few hard-pack rounds in the championship this year, and I think the settings Showa gave us and we’ve improved on have given us a giant step in the right direction. I haven’t done a lot of racing at Horsham – I think I was in my rookie year the last time we visited – but the track is one that should suit me and I’m confident in what we can do this weekend. The aim is to definitely go for the win. I showed at the Sunny State round that I have the speed and fitness, and to get on a winning streak, or even a podium streak, from here would be awesome.

Why is 2024 such an important year for you and your career?

I think every year is important, but after having a couple of years with injuries, I’m now healthy and I want to turn it around and show everyone what I’m capable of. For me, I want to get back to my winning ways and we’re on the right track to do that now. Having the support of Kawasaki and helping build that team up this year is a big incentive. I want to do well, not just for myself, but also for the team.