Daniel Sanders – Australia’s Next Big Thing
From his feature in the Aussie RIDE film by FourOhFour to pushing out results at the top of the Australian off road scene and now getting selected for this year’s ISDE in Argentina we reckon you’re going to hear a lot more about Daniel Sanders in the not too distant future.
With the help from Transmoto we get the lowdown on Sanders. Plus check out his video segment – it’s pretty epic…
Daniel Sanders first rose to national prominence at the 2012 Australian 4-Day Enduro (A4DE) in Victoria – and not just because of the memorable scene at the where Matt Phillips hacked the kid’s blonde mullet off to raise money for a charity! At the Warragul 4-Day, this relatively unknown 18-year-old claimed third in the E3 class and ninth Outright, prompting expectations of a big future.
In the wake of the 4-Day, however, “Chucky” Sanders is the first to admit he was distracted by school and injuries, and didn’t set the world on fire. But for season 2014, the real Daniel Sanders has turned up to play ball. After six rounds of the Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC), not only has the Boltons KTM/DirtWise/Fox rider taken six wins in the Transmoto 19 & Under class; but he’s sitting seventh in the Outright standings, up against what is arguably the most talent-stacked field in the series’ history.
Shortly after the announcement that this likeable young larrikin would represent Australia at the Argentinean ISDE later this year, we gave him a call to talk about what can only be described as a stellar start to 2014.
After doing so well at the 2012 4-Day, why only the cameo appearance at the AORC that year?
Sanders: “Back in 2012, I was finishing school, so that limited how seriously I could commit to racing. I only raced the Victorian rounds of the AORC, where I ran third in E3 on both days and eighth and 10th Outright, I think.”
And then you kind of ran hot and cold last year.
“Yeah, that’s a fair summary. I got an offer from a local Kawasaki dealer, which included support and a couple of bikes. But as I’d busted my collarbone early in the year, I didn’t do much pre-season riding, and I found adjusting from a 300cc KTM to the KX250F a bit difficult. I got some good results in the Cross-Country rounds, but struggled in the Sprints. At the 4-Day I had a few mishaps early in the event, and then knocked myself out trying to make up time!”
Why’d you choose the 19 & Under class this year at the AORC?
“Because there was no downside, and because Shane Watts and a few other sponsors steered me in that direction. The cool thing about the 19 & Under class is that you still get scored in the AORC’s Outright standings – which is what most of the top guys look at – and you can ride any bike you want. Based off my results, I’d be in second place in the Pro E3 class, but I reckon winning the 19s class in its first-ever year is a good goal.”
Tell us more about Wattsy’s involvement.
“Shane Watts has also helped me a lot in the past few years. Aside from giving me a bit of coin, his advice is priceless. He’s won world and GNCC titles and he’s a good guy to have in your corner. We speak every couple of weeks; about everything from racing to bike set-up to training. Plus he helps me out with press releases and reinforces the importance of knowing how to deal with the media.”
This year’s been a pretty solid one so far. You’ve had six straight wins in the 19 & Under class, and led a Cross-Country Outright at Corner Inlet.
“It was a pretty cool feeling holding off Toby Price and Glenn Kearney until the end of the second lap. It was a bit nerve-wracking, but it gave me a good feel for the speed of those blokes and how fit they are to maintain that speed for the whole three hours. I ran sixth in the end after having to make a quick fuel stop with a lap to go.”
And then the following day, you ran a career-best fourth Outright in the Sprint round, right?
“Yeah, and I was stoked with that. I had been having some trouble with the linkage on my 300XC race bike at that round, so I jumped on my 300EXC practice bike, which has a slightly stronger motor. I was 10 seconds per lap quicker on it, and ended up fourth Outright.”
Why do you think you were that much faster on the EXC compared with the XC, which is basically a 250SX with a 300cc motor?
“I just found I could corner noticeably faster on the EXC, mainly because its suspension was a bit softer. It’d sit into ruts better, but still get around flat grasstrack turns really well. I’m actually leaning toward the PDS set-up on the EXC. It just seems to work better in the bush.”
And now life’s got even better when you were named on Australia’s Junior team for the ISDE…
“Growing up, representing Australia has always been a dream of mine, so it was great to get the news that I was on the Junior Aussie team for Argentina. It’s nice to be able to race an event like that at a young age – not only for the experience, but to get a feel for where my speed is at compared to the best guys in the world. I think we’ve got a strong team with a realistic chance of a podium.”