Yet in such a short space of time, the 25-year-old has enjoyed a meteoric rise, with Todd snapped up to ride for the official Honda Racing team last year alongside Ulsterman Glenn Irwin at the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT.
It felt like a breakthrough opportunity for the North Yorkshireman, who has emerged as road racing’s top prospect since his roads debut on a 600cc Kawasaki for Longshot Racing at Skerries in July 2017.
Since then, Todd has claimed a coveted international victory in the Supersport class at the North West 200; finished sixth in the 2019 Senior TT with a lap at 131.491mph in only his second appearance at the event; sealed two rostrums at the Ulster Grand Prix in the Superstock and Supersport classes; won Europe’s International Road Racing Championship (IRRC) and claimed fourth at the Macau Grand Prix – again in only his second start at the event.
He is also the second fastest TT newcomer in history behind Peter Hickman, lapping the 37.73-mile course at 128.379mph in 2018 to win the prestigious Newcomers Trophy. Todd was also the leading newcomer at the North West 200 and Southern 100 during the same year, finishing third in the blue riband Solo Championship race at the 4.25-mile Billown course on the Isle of Man and setting the fastest newcomer lap ever at 112.571mph.
However, just when it seemed the stage was set for Todd to move on to the next level at the major road races with Honda, the global coronavirus pandemic quite literally put the brakes on his flourishing career.
Both the North West and TT were cancelled, leaving Todd to focus solely on competing in the National Superstock 1000 Championship.
His chance to further enhance his reputation as a future TT winner in the making was snatched away and with the Mountain Course festival also falling victim to the Covid-19 crisis this year – and later the North West 200 – Todd was dropped from the Honda line-up.
He is now working hard on securing a deal to return to the Superstock 1000 Championship in 2021 but his frustration at missing out on the major road races for two successive years is tangible, with Todd seemingly on the cusp of something special when the sport was turned on its head last year.
In an interview with the News Letter, he said: “When you think that there won’t be a TT until 2022 it just seems a hell of a way off. Missing out on the TT is devastating and when I heard it was cancelled again, it was just so disheartening.
“I know they had to do it but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s the event that we all want to be at every year. I did BSB last year in Superstock and I enjoyed that, but it’s not the TT and it’s not road racing; I want to do circuit racing for sure, but in addition to the big road races.
“I really felt the gap left by missing out on those events last year and also the social aspect of it as well.
“I just felt like I was starting to get going and I had a couple of years at the North West and TT where I was just taking things steady and not making any mistakes or doing anything silly. I was just getting to that stage when I felt I could maybe start to challenge because I felt really comfortable out there and I felt the chance was there to go and get some good results,” Todd added.
“I felt I was beginning to break through but then everything got knocked on the head and I was actually speaking to John McGuinness recently, and I told him that I had just got that opportunity only for everything to be cancelled. But he was looking at it in a different way because he said I have plenty of years left in my career whereas he’s at a different stage, and he said he’d much rather be in my position.
“When he put it like that then it helps you realise that there will be lots of opportunities to come but I want to be racing now of course, as does everyone else.”
With only two years’ TT experience under his belt, Todd accepts that he will have to rein in his expectations when the event returns in 2022 and ultimately start afresh.
“When we do get back, I think I’ll have to step back a little bit in terms of the learning curve but in the same sense, I was a newcomer just two years ago and I’ve only done two TTs, so I know what it’s like for it to feel new,” he said.
“Some of the other guys have been doing it for years and after having two years away, it’s going to feel quite new to everyone really. It’s really hard to say what it will be like after that amount of time away but I’m just eager to get back again. I’ve played the TT PlayStation game to death by now but I just can’t wait for the chance to race there again.
“I’ll have to go back with a different mindset because I was ready to start and push on a bit, but now I’ll have to go back to how I was riding the course in the previous two years and it’ll be a case of steady away again,” said Todd.
“I’d love it if the Classic TT was able to go ahead and I’ve got my fingers crossed for it. I’ve got something in place to ride the Padgett’s 250cc Honda again and I’d be super excited to ride that again. In 2019 I rode it for the first time, a proper two-stroke race bike, and it was just incredible.
“It would be nice to get the opportunity to just even do some laps around the TT course but I don’t know what to expect any more, because I was hopeful we’d be back at the TT again this year and it didn’t happen.”
After finishing 12th in the National Superstock 1000 Championship, sealing a best result on the new Honda Fireblade of seventh at Snetterton, Todd was confident he could really make his mark this year, but he is now on the lookout for a new team.
“I was hoping to carry on with Honda this year. I didn’t finish up where I wanted to last year, although I was consistently in the top ten,” he said.
“I know I can be right at the front but there is so little margin between being 10th and first. At Snetterton I was seventh but I was only something like half a second off the win.
“I know that if I can get back for a second year, I can be so much stronger than I was. It’s a learning curve for me and I had never raced a 1000cc bike on a circuit until last year. Before I did the roads, I only did one season in Superstock 600 on the circuits, so it was a big learning curve.
“I felt I was just getting the hang of things when I got to the end of the year and we only got six rounds in all because of coronavirus, so I’m eager to be back and hopefully I’ll be able to work something out.”
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