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BSB: Dan Linfoot - Q&A

Crash.net catches up with Dan Linfoot to discuss his impressive BSB season to date, the difficulties of getting to this stage and the future.
Crash.net:
Congratulations on the first podium at Oulton Park. That must have been a relief when you crossed the finish line.

Dan Linfoot:
Thanks very much! To be honest it was one of the fastest races I've ever had in terms of how fast the laps went. Normally when you're racing by yourself or you're being caught it seems to take a long time. Because I just got stuck in and was in and around a few other guys the laps went by fast and it was quite enjoyable.

Crash.net:
Does it make the result even sweeter considering the conditions were as tricky as that?

Dan Linfoot:
No, not really. I would have preferred it to be fully dry if I'm honest. I don't think I did any better because conditions were a little in between. I think everyone still attacked the race as if it was dry because we were all on slick tyres [but] it would have been better for us all if it was fully dry.

Crash.net:
It feels like your debut podium in BSB had been a long time coming. Did you feel the same way?

Dan Linfoot:
I felt that way, not in terms of this year but over the past few seasons. I've obviously been trying to break through in BSB. To be honest I didn't really expect the podium so soon this season. Obviously I wanted one but I was expecting to need more time to improve the bike and build the confidence. For example, in the last three races it suited my chances of getting a podium a little bit more. Yet for it to come so soon is nice. I guess you could say it's been a long time coming over the past few seasons. Now I know what it takes and I can believe in myself more. Hopefully I'll be able to achieve a few more this season.

Crash.net:
Looking at your results in 2014 you've found a remarkable level of consistency. Is that down to you feeling totally at home on the Kawasaki and settled in the team?

Dan Linfoot:
It's a combination of everything because I need to try and achieve a 'Showdown' position. I need to stay consistent. When I looked at what James Westmoreland did last season, he got a 'Showdown' place, but not really for anything more than being consistent. He didn't get a podium but he was consistent every weekend and scored points when he could. So that was my aim, to stay as consistent as I could and stay as close to the top six in every race as possible. I hoped that come Donington Park I would be close enough to get a top six place. We're fourth at the moment and we have four races left. I don't want to rest on where I am but it's looking good and I want to get the next two events out of the way and score as strongly as possible and hopefully we'll be one of the contenders.

Crash.net:
Ryuichi Kiyonari mentioned in a recent interview that the BMW was the strongest machine out there. How have you found the Kawasaki?

Dan Linfoot:
I've adapted well. It's a fast bike; it's a stable bike. For me, compared to what I rode last year, it does everything that I want. I think my bike is as competitive as the other top three bikes that are on the podium every other weekend. I just think it's a case of me continuing my belief in the improvements in my riding and giving them a run every weekend.

Crash.net:
After what happened at the start of 2013 with the unlucky injury at Brands Hatch was it a move on your part to ease yourself into the season?

Dan Linfoot:
Yeah, especially [at] round one. I just wanted to get points, get into the rest of the season and get the rhythm going. Going into round one was just a case of learning the bike - we only had three or four days on the bike [before that]. It was about learning what the bike does and doesn't do, and to change what I wanted. I wanted to find some consistency, not do anything daft and bring home some points that gave us a start in the championship.

Crash.net:
You hear reports of certain riders in MotoGP having had everything done for them from a young age. You certainly haven't had that luxury. Do certain experiences and disappointments help to provide you with motivation?

Dan Linfoot:
Absolutely. I'm not from a wealthy background or family. I've always been brought up to go out and achieve it or go out and work for it. The experiences I've had in the world and European championships definitely made me tougher, definitely made my approach a lot more work based. I knew that from 2008/9, when I had my 250GP and European Superstock experience that I was coming back to the UK to have a proper go at becoming a Superbike rider. I wanted to be a GP rider [before] and I came back to British Supersport in '09 and knew that my apprenticeship of riding four-strokes was starting.

I was learning all the circuits with the view of getting into BSB as soon as possible. At the end of that season I had time on a Superbike with Rob Mac [McElnea]. Blooming heck! That was an unbelievable experience [and] was worse than I expected. I thought that I'd be quite fast straight away but I got aboard that and could not ride the thing to save my life. It was so aggressive. I was an accident waiting to happen - I could have crashed at every corner.

The following season I was with Rob Mac again, we had an upgrade for the bike. The chassis was really good. I loved riding it. But the engine and electronics' characteristics didn't match and I ended up crashing more than I stayed on the thing. Looking back it was the first year learning the ropes.
From that year onwards I knew I couldn't keep crashing. Teams didn't have budgets to keep repairing bikes. I lost my sponsor and racing took a big downturn. Suddenly it was difficult to find a ride the year after. At the eleventh hour one became available. I took that with a little funding from my sponsor and went again on a Honda. I kept learning, tried to not crash as much. Unfortunately five rounds later we split for financial reasons so for the rest of 2011 we went to Spain to race a Moto2 bike just to keep riding.

The aim was always to continue in BSB. I always had the belief that if I wanted to make a career out of racing bikes you have to be on a Superbike. In the UK the biggest class is Superbike, that's where all the sponsors want to go, where all the people watch.

I came back to BSB in 2012 with Buildbase BMW. I had four events with those guys before crashing and breaking my hand at Knockhill. That put paid to that. I had a break with the team so to speak and then rode in World Supersport with a view to getting a full time ride in 2013. In the end the Indian team [Mahi Racing] ousted me to take [Kenan] Sofuoglu. Back it was again to BSB and I knew this was my final opportunity to make it. With GBmoto I got punted off at the first round and broke my pelvis.
That was the year over before it started. It took four events to get back into it and by that time everyone had got to know their bikes and had picked up the pace. There I was starting again on a new bike.

So to be honest this year is where I felt I should have been a few years ago. With all the splits and injuries I've never felt that I've had a continuous opportunity to keep growing with my bike, getting confident and building the results.

Crash.net:
How did you get involved in racing in the first place?

Dan Linfoot:
I got into racing through my father. He did some club racing in the seventies. He's always been a fanatic - following the Superbikes and MotoGP on TV. When I came along I went to watch BSB from the age of three or four. If you asked me when I was five or six what I was going to do when I was older I would have told you: 'I'm going to race motorbikes.' I had my first bike when I was six, a little off-road Pee-Wee 80. I didn't take to the off-road stuff to be honest. I went to a bike show in Rossendale, Manchester when I was twelve. I had a go on a mini-bike, which went really well. It surprised my dad at the time that I had jumped on it. The next thing Santa Claus brought me a mini-moto. I started racing in 2002 and I only did twelve to 16 months of that because I got good at it straight away. I won a national championship although I started quite late. I wanted to progress to a geared bike and try and get working at the career and trying to get as far as I could. After that I went straight to 125s, 125GP, 250s, 600s and obviously now Superbike.

I never tried to win a championship. I always improved on one bike then moved onto the next category. I always wanted to get to the highest level and highest level of bike that I could to try and make a career of it. I didn't want to stay in the 125 class for three years. I wanted to learn from it and move on.

Crash.net:
At the tail end of 2005 you got a call to challenge the likes of Bradley Smith in the Spanish CEV championship. Can you tell us a little about that?

Dan Linfoot:
It was a surprise. 2005 was my second season in the 125 class in the UK. I just started to have a little success with about four second places and a couple of thirds. I think I finished fourth in the championship that season. This was in my Dad's team - he had bought the bike. It wasn't the fastest out there but we worked on it to make it as good as we could. In October after the season I got a phone call from Dorna saying, 'Would you like to come and race in the Spanish Championship for the final two events?' It came off the back of my success at the British GP as a wildcard [where] I finished ninth. Myself and James Westmoreland went out to ride for Aki Ajo's team. We got stuck in and had two races - one in Valencia, one in Jerez. It was nice to ride a proper two-stroke 125 GP bike. It was a good experience but it didn't lead on to anything. I then ended up racing a 250 in the European championship and grand prix.

Crash.net:
You were then suddenly flung into grand prix racing in 2006/7. Was your top-ten finish at the 2007 British Grand Prix a particular career highlight?

Dan Linfoot:
2007 started as a complete nightmare as I had signed at the back end of '06 to race for a private British team for a full season in GPs. It was Peter Clifford's WCM team with a guy I had ridden for in 2006. But it didn't happen over winter. So I went from having no ride to replacing Ant West in a 250 team. I jumped at the chance, started at Donington and as it happened it was my best result: a ninth place in the rain.

It was one of the highlights. Obviously it wasn't a great result but for your first event to be ninth was nice. It was also nice to be on a good bike trying to learn from Lorenzo, Dovizioso, Simoncelli - these heroes. But to be honest it was too soon. The year before I had been racing 125s in the British Championship and although it was a fantastic opportunity I wasn't quite ready for it in terms of how I had progressed. I was still young and crashing a lot. I think if I had that opportunity now I would have attacked it a completely different way.

Crash.net:
Looking back, when you moved to BSB full time in 2010 with Rob Mac's Yamaha team, would you say the Superbike deal came too soon?

Dan Linfoot:
Not in the same way as the 250 opportunity. You look at it on paper and I hadn't even done one full season on the Supersport bike [in 2009] and then I was on a Superbike. There's a margin to say it was a bit too soon but I wanted to get into Superbike as soon as I could. It possibly was.

Crash.net:
With your team-mate Neil Hodgson retiring from racing early in the season did that put extra pressure on your shoulders?

Dan Linfoot:
I had no choice! We started the season with two riders and that was great for me because there wasn't a lot expected of me. It was just a case of learning and Neil was the one to go and get the results. But with him stopping at the first round suddenly I'm the only rider and the teams and sponsors want results. That's when I started crashing, all the pressure got piled on and Rob Mac notoriously went about his business in a strange way. As soon as I wasn't delivering he got at me a little more. If I look back now these are the things that really made me stronger.

That year I had a big tiff with Chris Walker too. Unfortunately at the first race of the year, at Brands, I took Chris out. So I'm on his old bike, he's on a bike he bought himself. I couldn't get past him and went for an opportunity at Graham Hill and t-boned him. I ran over to him and was ever so sorry at the time. He took that as maybe a way to play games with me. I knew him quite well as he was on Rob Mac's Superbike while I was on the Supersport bike the year before. It had gone from getting on well to him properly playing games with me, trying to kick my bike on track and running into me in pit lane - all of these mind games. For a couple of rounds I was shitting myself because Chris was this big name with the fans and he [had] a grudge against me.

If I'm honest that was the biggest thing that toughened me up in 2010. It took me two or three rounds to get over it and once I had I couldn't have given a shit. Chris was out of my mind. Luckily in the last couple of years we've been like brand new. I think Chris likes to play little games like that. It was two big events that made me knuckle down. Immediately after that season we [made up] and I work on his race school now.

Crash.net:
I know you were fortunate enough to share a garage with Tommy Aquino when you rode for the Wilmax Moto2 outfit in 2011 in the CEV series. What was he like as a team-mate?

Dan Linfoot:
He was a very fun guy to be around, very outgoing. We had a lot of piss-takes because he's from America and the accent and words he used. As I'm a Yorkshire man, it was like, 'What do say for this? What do you say for that?' He was a fun guy to be around. He came over to Spain to get away from America and learn a little bit. In BSB on the Superstock bike with WD40 he was doing a real good job and I think he was going to come into Superbike this year. It was a massive shame. His mum is a lovely woman, he has brothers that I didn't meet but it was such a shame, especially when you've been close to someone like that. Life goes on unfortunately, you have to put that out of your head and crack on with your job.

Crash.net:
You got Mahi Racing's first ever podium in WSS after going to toe-to-toe with Sofuoglu at the final race of 2012. Did you feel hard done by when they didn't sign you up for 2013?

Dan Linfoot:
Yeah, I was so pissed off because the guy who runs the Mahi Kawasaki team was the same guy who ran Beowulf Racing [Andrew Stone], who I rode for in 2008 in Superstock 600. I had known him for many years anyway. He rang me and said there was a brand new Supersport team starting, supported by Kawasaki with a massive budget and the bikes would be the best they could get. I was laid up with a hand injury from the Buildbase BMW Superbike and I hadn't been getting on very well with that team. I hadn't been made to feel at home and I didn't get on with the team boss. I just wasn't enjoying racing. This opportunity came up to do World Supersport for the rest of 2012 and I jumped at the chance because of the status of the team. The support was great and we chipped away. I finished seventh in Portugal and got on the podium in France at the final race of the year. I thought I had done enough to prove that I could get the seat for the year after.

I don't know what Kawasaki had planned but Kenan Sofuoglu was soon signed up and he took my seat. They had taken me out to India only a week before, did a big press conference, and [it] looked like all was rosy. Then maybe two days after I got off the plane from India they rang to say, 'Sorry, you haven't got the ride, Kenan's got your seat.' I was pissed off for what I had given up the year before.

Crash.net:
Is that your aim, to eventually get back onto the world stage?

Dan Linfoot:
Long term, yes. But BSB is such a good place to race at the moment. Short term I want to win BSB. There's [John] Hopkins, [Jakub] Smrz, Shakey [Byrne], [Josh] Brookes. BSB is like a world championship anyway. I'm really enjoying racing there and getting close to the front is ten times more enjoyable. I'd like to continue what I'm doing. The series grows and evolves so maybe there's no need to go anywhere. But I guess it's every riders' dream to move on to the world championship but at the moment the focus is to win in BSB and if that opportunity comes in the next couple of years then great.

Crash.net:
Quattro Plant Kawasaki has enjoyed some fantastic success with James Hillier at the TT. Is that something that interests you?

Dan Linfoot:
It does, yeah. Every May I watch it on ITV and think, 'I've got to do this next year.' Then it gets to June [and] a month later I get back into BSB and I completely forget about the TT. What they do there is amazing - it's a massive event - the prestige is good. At the end of the day if you speak to Joe Bloggs in the street and say you race motorbikes they always say, 'The Isle of Man TT!' I tell them no, I just race BSB. At some point I'd like to have a go but I don't know when the right time [would be]. At the moment BSB is doing good, I have no real need to try it at the moment but, for sure, at some stage I'll want to have a go. I've been over a few times on the newcomer's trip to speak with the organisers. But I haven't been brave enough to pick up the phone and say 'put my entry down!'

Crash.net:
With the form that you're in a 'Showdown' spot looks a real possibility. If you were to qualify for that what do you think your strategy would be?

Dan Linfoot:
My plan for the next two races isn't to stick my neck out and get more podiums. It is literally to get as many points as I can to get into the 'Showdown'. Once I'm in, that's our aim done. The team's aim and mine is to get into the 'Showdown'. Once I'm in that's job done and I can relax and just attack the final few races with zero pressure and try and mix it with the boys every weekend and sort a job out for next year. If that means sticking my neck out and trying to win one or staying consistent to finish third or fourth I don't know. I'll be more relaxed with how I ride and I'm the one who's got nothing to lose. The top three have. I'll be going to look after myself and score as many good finishes as I can.

Crash.net:
You had two solid finishes at Cadwell Park in 2013. Do you get on well with the track?

Dan Linfoot:
Cadwell last year wasn't so solid if I'm honest. I think I finished eleventh twice and I really struggled with the bike. I like Cadwell, I'm not good on the Mountain. I don't do anything spectacular; I just go over it and carry on. I like the rest of the track and to be honest I'm enjoying going everywhere a lot more this year on the bike I'm on because the lap times are coming easier and I'm able to fight with faster guys. I'm looking forward to getting there, working hard in practice and then hopefully being able to mix it in the top five during the race. Like I said if I can keep scoring points in the top six it will consolidate my 'Showdown' place.

Crash.net:
Have you had talks with the team about next year yet?

Dan Linfoot:
There've been whispers. To be honest I'm not bothered at the moment. I'm just focused on getting into the 'Showdown'. Every morning I'm waking up, thinking, 'shit, how many points do I need to get in now?' Next year is the last thing on my agenda at the moment. Although I'm sure the teams and sponsors are starting to talk about it, I just want to get into the 'Showdown'. Then I'll look to next year.

Crash.net:
Best of luck at Cadwell Dan and thanks for your time.

Dan Linfoot:
No worries mate.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Dan Linfoot Quattro Plant Kawasaki - ihphotography.net
Dan Linfoot Quattro Plant Kawasaki - ihphotography.net
Dan Linfoot Quattro Plant Kawasaki - ihphotography.net
Dan Linfoot - Quatto Plant Kawasaki [pic credit: Ian Hopgood]
STIHL
Dan Linfoot
Ryuichi Kiyonari at Donington Park
Shane Byrne on the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki at Donington Park
Tommy Bridewell Milwaukee Yamaha - ihphotography.net
Tommy Bridewell Milwaukee Yamaha - ihphotography.net
Shane Byrne Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki - ihphotography.net
Shane Byrne Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki - ihphotography.net
Ryuichi Kiyonari Buildbase BMW Motorrad - ihphotography.net
Ryuichi Kiyonari Buildbase BMW Motorrad - ihphotography.net
Ryuichi Kiyonari Buildbase BMW Motorrad - ihphotography.net
Peter Hickman RAF Reserves Honda - ihphotography.net
Patric Muff Bathams Prize Winning Ales - ihphotography.net
Patric Muff Bathams Prize Winning Ales - ihphotography.net

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Braahp

August 22, 2014 1:36 PM

Really enjoyed the interview and am looking forward to what a confident Dan can do. But I think that BSB is in a bit of a crisis at the moment in that it desperately needs new exciting riders coming through its ranks. The racing is good but the excitement of having riders like Cal, Leon, Leon, Tom etc etc around has gone. Most of the riders have been around for ages and there are few riders like Andrew Reid or Luke Hedger coming through. MSV needs to go to Barcelona and learn how they do it there, they have a federation there which is reponsible for riders like Marc, Pol. Dani, Jorge, Aleix. Carlos etc. There's nothing about being Catalan that makes you fast. it's about how the riders are brought on and we need to learn from that.



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