Moto2: 2022 rookie profile – Sean Dylan Kelly
Florida born Sean Dylan Kelly comes into Moto2 as the MotoAmerica Supersport champion.
Sean Dylan Kelly is America’s most exciting new prospect heading into 2022 with the American Racing Team, the ex-Red Bull Rookies rider has been honing his craft over in the USA for the last three years. He built somewhat of a reputation for himself as being a P2 man, however after 2021 this is no more as he is the reigning MotoAmerica Supersport champion and will be joining 5 x MotoAmerica champion Cameron Beaubier in the American Racing Moto2 Team.
Coming from a national championship to the Moto2 World Championship is a huge step, it’s one of the biggest steps a rider can make, especially as Sean hasn’t come from the premier Superbike class like Beaubier and Dixon have. For Sean this doesn’t mean anything, year on year he’s proven that he possesses an incredibly high level of talent after duelling it out with Richie Escalante for the 2020 and 2021 Supersport titles, the #1 plate going in favour of Escalante in 2020. Both riders dominated every race completely leaving their competition behind to scrap it out for the final podium spot, in nearly every MotoAmerica Supersport race in 2021 Sean and Richie locked out P1 and P2, even going as far as crashing out of races in the same corner due to the limit they were riding at.
Escalante hunting down Dylan Kelly at Laguna Seca 2021.
MotoAmerica’s social media pages are full of highlight reels of the pairs epic duels and Sean proved that he doesn’t give up, he will put it on the line until the very last second to make it count, a mindset that perfectly translates into Grand Prix racing.
Sean Dylan Kelly was always destined to race in the World Championship, however, as with many riders his dream came to a halt due to a lack of money in 2018 after completing three years in the Red Bull Rookies. He had offers to race in the FIM CEV Moto3 Junior World Championship but didn’t have the hundreds of thousands of Euro’s that were being demanded by teams to be able to race in the series.
Reluctantly he dragged his heels onto a plane and flew back to America, taking part in the Daytona 200 in his first race back in the States. He proved he was fast and on debut would become the youngest ever Daytona 200 pole position sitter at just 16-years-old. He wouldn’t win the race but had impressed his M4 Ecstar Suzuki team who offered him a paid ride in MotoAmerica with a two-year contract, there was no way he was turning that down.
Sean took home P2 on his Daytona 200 debut at 16-years-old, netting him a cool $20,000… at 16!
These two years would prove to be successful spending much of 2019 learning the circuits before launching a full-on title attack in 2020, 2020 would be a stellar season for Sean who was racing a Suzuki GSXR-600, one of the only riders in national championships to still be riding the outdated Suzuki, all year long he would battle Richie Escalante for the title with Richie eventually coming home with the #1 plate thanks to a small amount of help from an extra 36cc’s which Sean would passionately protest against. Despite this loss Sean learned a lot, he learned how to push himself to the next level and fight for the championship, he extended his contract for another year with the M4 Suzuki team with the aim of winning the 2021 Supersport title.
He also took part in the 2021 Daytona 200 on the Suzuki and looked incredibly strong with pace to win the entire thing, he even led on the final lap but a slight mistake from Sean’s part gave chasing rider Brandon Paasch enough of an advantage to slipstream Sean to the line and win by just 0.030 seconds, Dylan Kelly once again finishing in second place.
What 0.030 seconds looks like.
Both of these huge losses lit a fire under his ass, there was no way he was going to lose the Supersport title in 2021. He set his sights on Richie Escalante who had stayed in the class and the pair battled in every race of the season for the title swapping paint and clanging fairings at every opportunity, Seanhad learned a lot in 2020 and early 2021 after suffering losses of the Supersport title and the Daytona 200 races. There was nothing that was going to stand in his way of the Supersport title, not even an extra 36cc, he was a stronger, better and more mature rider and this shone through with the youngster taking home the championship at the end of the season.
During his time of racing in America Sean had been part of the American Racing Academy, a subsidiary of the American Racing Team ran by Eitan Butbul and John Hopkins, the Academy was formed to help push American racers into the World Championship and Sean was proving time and time again that he deserved a seat in Europe, the team eventually deciding to hire Sean to pair with Cameron Beaubier in the 2022 American Racing Moto2 rider lineup, making it an all American affair as originally intended by the team. It’s worth noting that Sean did a race for the team at Valencia in 2019 on the KTM replacing Iker Lecuona who had stepped up to replace Miguel Oliveira on the Tech3 MotoGP machine, Sean impressed and showed many that Moto2 is where he belongs.
For Sean this is his chance to shine and prove to everyone what he’s got up his sleeve, plus at only 19-years-old he’s got plenty of time to learn and perfect his craft this year on many circuits he already knows.
Featured images – Brian J Nelson