Dan Linfoot on his promising GP debut

Friday, 5 August 2005

Dan Linfoot on his promising GP debut

Most Grand Prix offer the opportunity for several local riders to mix it up with the World Championship regulars and try to make an impression on the paddock with the goal to secure a full-time ride at the highest level of motorcycle racing. Wildcard entries often turn out as eye-opening trials, but remain the best way to spot new talents.

Since the start of the season, over 30 riders tried their hand in the 125 class, but so far, only one managed to take a top 10 finish: 17 year-old Dan Linfoot made the most of the wet conditions at Donington Park to take ninth in an incident-packed race. motogp.com caught up with the young Briton, who is currently third overall in the British 125GP Championship.

What his your racing background, when did you start riding?

I started racing at the age of 13 on minibikes. I competed in several championships whereby I became champion of the ACU National 4.2hp Senior ‘A' championship, and was 3rd in the UK 4.2 Minibike Championship.

In 2003, I progressed onto Aprilia 125cc Production bikes. I rounded off the season winning the ‘Stars of Darley' race at Darley Moor. I was 2nd in the Auto66 Formula 125cc Championship, and 3rd in the Darley Moor Formula 125cc Championship.

2004 was my rookie season on a 125GP bike. I competed the British 125GP Championship with a best result of 9th place at Croft, finishing the championship overall in 24th position. I was also crowned the North East Motorcycle Racing Club 125GP Champion.

Do you have any ‘role model' or favourite rider in the MotoGP Championship?

My all time hero is Valentino Rossi. I've watched him from when I was growing up and always respected his ability on a motorcycle. I only wish that one day I'm as good as him!!!

How has been your season so far?

This season has had its ups and down so far. It started off well with a strong 7th place at Brands Hatch. Thruxton we failed to finish due to a mechanical problem. The next four rounds I finished on the podium in 2nd place which boosted me in the championship. Knockhill and Snetterton have been rounds to forget. Knockhill I crashed on lap 13 whilst in 5th place and Snetterton the bike seized on lap 4. Even though this season has been hard. I still feel I am in a comfortable position to win the British 125GP Championship.

The British GP was your first World Championship race. How did you get this opportunity and what was your first reaction when you knew that you were to race in a GP?

I got the opportunity through my British Championship success, whereby I was 3rd in the championship to be put forward for the wildcard entry. When the wildcard was confirmed, I just wanted to get into the Grand Prix paddock and mix it with the world's best to see what I could learn from the experience. Obviously I was delighted and excited to be accepted, prior to the event.

Was Donington the best place for your GP debut? Is it a track you like?

I love the Donington Park circuit, it seems to have a bit of everything. It has tight and slow turns, and also fast and flowing turns. However, I have only ridden at Donington once previous to the GP. I would have preferred to wildcard at a Spanish circuit, with better weather conditions !! But I do like, and tend to go well in wet conditions.

As a wild-card, were you impressed by this first experience in GP racing? What made the biggest impression on you?

From the moment I walked into the GP paddock to see the standard of the teams, equipment and hospitalities, it blew me away. The standard of riding was excellent and I learnt lots from it. After being involved in a round of GP's, I feel with more GP experience, I can compete competitively in Grand Prix's. What impressed me most, was the professionalism shown by everybody in the whole event.

Finishing in the top 10 was quite a feat and you're the only wild-card rider to have done so since the start of the season. Tell us about your race!

At the start of the race, my bike cut out on the line, due to an air-lock in the fuel tank. This fired me up, and by the end of lap one, I was on the tail of other wildcard riders. I kept plugging away and managed to catch up to Christian Elkin, just when the red flags came out due to rain, whilst I was in 34th place. I knew if the race was declared wet, I would be in with a fighting chance, to retain my goal of finishing top British rider. I was 11th in morning warm-up so knew I was capable of finishing in a good position.

In the re-start, I made a good start and found myself in with lots of GP regulars. I picked them all off one by one until I saw I was in position 11. A few riders fell off which promoted me to 9th, and I found myself battling with Joan Olive for 8th place. My bike seemed to be moving around lots in the wet, so with 3 laps remaining, I said to myself ‘Make sure I stay on and finish'. When I went over the line to see my team jumping and cheering, it made the whole weekend worthwhile.

It was the best racing moment of my career.

What's your schedule for the rest of the season?

In the British Championship I am not part of a team, my Mum and Dad fund and support me solely during the whole season. So for me, the plan for the rest of the season is to complete the British 125GP Championship and my target is to win. If funds allow, I have my heart set on competing in the final 2 rounds of the Spanish 125GP Championship.

Any plans for next season? Do you plan to move to the 125 World Championship ‘full-time' in the near future?

My plans for next season are to race abroad with a 125GP team. I would love to race GP's full time and make a career out of it, but to do this I need to be part of a team.

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