Kevin holding the Keyes to a bright future

MotorbikesBy Finn Gillespie
Kevin Keyes
Kevin Keyes

AT six years old, many boys look forward to their first pair of football boots and dream of playing in the Premier League, writes George Thompson.

Not so with Kevin Keyes — from that young age the Offaly lad was looking forward to his first mini moto races and had an eye on eventually racing in MotoGP.

Now 17, Kevin races in the British Superbike Championship, is a contender for the Santander Consumer Finance KTM British Junior Cup, and has partly fulfilled his dreams by recently competing in the ADAC (German) Junior Cup at Sachsenring in the German round of MotoGP, where he finished ninth.

Afterwards Kevin said: “I can’t believe it, I didn’t think I’d do it but I raced in a MotoGP race and I got a top-10 finish.” Kevin also got to meet his peers and idols in the form of Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez at the event.

At the age of six, the youngster from Edenderry began his racing career in the Irish Mini Moto Championship, competing in this series until the age of 12, winning a junior novice and junior championship along the way.

Moving up to a bigger bike with a gearbox, Kevin raced a 50cc machine for two seasons before competing in the Irish 125 Production Championship for the next three years, from here moving to the 125 GP Class on a Honda and winning the Irish Championship.

At 16 he made the ‘big step up’, choosing to ride in the Irish Supersport Championship on a Yamaha R6, taking second place in the championship and winning the Adelaide Masters Series — Supersport Cup.

At the beginning of the 2015 season, Kevin was given the opportunity by Team #109 to compete in the KTM British Junior Cup as part of the British Superbike Championship. The team is backed and run by David Hurley (ADH Electrical) and former Adelaide Supertwin champion Paul Tobin (TPS Office Equipment).

Team #109 has invested in a KTM 390 to run in the Santander Consumer Finance KTM British Junior Cup, a series open to riders between 13 and 18, with the entire grid mounted on an identical variation of the KTM RC 390.

With deals being struck at a late stage, Kevin Keyes and Team #109 joined the series for the second round at Brands Hatch in May, a combination which brought a win and a second place on the first outing and brought the international media spotlight on Kevin.

Mid-way through the series Kevin is in fourth place in the championship standings and is just 37 points adrift of leader Thomas Strudwick, who is out through injury for the next few rounds.

What’s next for Kevin? His racecraft hasn’t gone unnoticed. KTM Junior Cup mentor Steve Plater, a former BSB and TT star, holds Kevin in high esteem, with some of the major teams looking closely at this young Irish star.