Interviews 5 Dec 2017

Catching Up: Daniel Falzon

New Yamaha Racing Team recruit on his ASBK prospects ahead of 2018.

A factory ride has been a long-time coming for Daniel Falzon, the two-time national Supersport champion and back-to-back top privateer in the Yamaha Motor Finance Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK). This week it was officially announced that the 23-year-old South Australian has signed a contract to join Wayne Maxwell at Yamaha Racing Team (YRT) for 2018, in what is a fitting step for a rider who was been part of Yamaha Motor Australia’s step-up program through the majority of his road racing career. spoke to Falzon today for his take on the deal and how it was formalised in the lead-up to the new year.

Image: Keith Muir.

Congratulations on the YRT deal, which is a huge reward for all that your family has put in over the years.

Yeah, it sure is. It’s an absolute honour to get the call-up from John [Redding] and YRT for next year and, as you said, my team put in 10 big, hard years at the national level as privateers in Australia. It’s fantastic to be able to give something back to them, because at this point in my career I think my team was quite exhausted because as much as we love it, it’s extremely taxing to run a privateer team at that level. Especially when we’re all trying to hold full-time jobs as well.

What do you think will be the biggest advantage being part of the factory team?

Well, I definitely don’t think it will be the bike. I’ve always said that I think my Caterpillar Yamaha was equally as competitive as the factory Yamahas, but I think just having the added extra support and the knowledge because they’ve obviously been in racing a lot longer than our team. Also, being in the environment with experienced teammates like Wayne and having the ability to go to more test days as well – we are hoping to get to quite a few test days this year and I look forward to that, being able to fly there and not having any privateer team worries.

Does more pressure come with this position?

Yeah, I think there is definitely extra pressure. There’s an expectation aligned with factory teams, but it doesn’t really faze me. I think pressure is one thing I’ve become accustomed to over a number of years racing, especially last year there was quite a lot of pressure on me as well to perform. We did quite a good job, so I can’t see why we can’t improve upon that next year as well, because I feel like my career is going from strength to strength and I’m at the prime age right now to really show what I have and to put it all on the line.

One change that we’ll see is that at YRT you will be on the R1M, rather than the regular R1 that JD Racing had fielded. Expecting many differences between the bikes?

Not a whole lot. I know that the R1M has a different front fork than the standard R1, but other than that there’s not a whole lot of difference. They do run a different rear shock at YRT, one that we were looking to get for our team, but it is extremely expensive and just something that we couldn’t justify as a privateer team, so it will be nice to have that on the bike for this season. Whether it actually makes me any faster or not, I don’t know – that will come out and we will find out soon. All as I’m expecting is to go out there, play it as it comes and hopefully I get accustomed to the bike quite quickly.

Image: Alex Gobert (Foremost Media).

We do need to make one thing clear, that you aren’t paying for your ride as such, but it’s no secret that you – via personal sponsorship – will be funding a portion of the expenses that would have previously come from the team’s operating budget.

Well, it is true that there is no money exchanging from my hand to Yamaha’s hands – I’m not paying them any money – but there is very small expenses that I’ve been asked to cover in the first year. That’s totally fine with me, because at the end of the day, it’s maybe one-tenth of our privateer budget, so to be able to take these privateer sponsors on-board with me is only a positive. I’ve got to thank people like Phil Canning from Energy Power Systems Australia and Caterpillar for staying on-board in the 2018 season, as well as William Adams and Mainline Dyno, because heading into these teams when you have to fund a little bit of money, but expect very little exposure, it’s a big ask, so I thank them and I look forward to the year.

Either way, it’s still far more cost-effective and less involved than operating your own team altogether. And, on top of that from what I understand, you’re still certain to earn money as a professional racer from your partnerships.

That’s right. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t making money from racing and I have been for the past few years. We’ve had some very good sponsors to be able to cover this and yes, they are coming on-board with YRT. There is also incentives from YRT, so the small cost that I’ll be covering myself, as I said they’ve very minimal in the scheme of things and I think any rider in the paddock would jump at the opportunity that I’ve got, so I thank Yamaha.

And, just finally, what’s next between now and Phillip Island’s opening round in February?

I’ve just been doing quite a bit of training lately. I’ve been in the pool a lot, doing some swimming and I’m back out on the push-bike a little bit. We’ve got some test days lined up with YRT and I probably will do some independent days on my own bike at Mallala, just to get some more bike time because I know we’ve got the official ASBK test and other tests lined up, so that’s something I’m going to have to be physically prepared for. I’m just really, really looking forward to it. The season comes around quickly and there’s not much time to rest, so we’re back into it and ready for the 2018 season.

Thank you mate, well done again and we’re definitely keen to see you on the factory bike!

Yeah, fantastic. Thanks Alex and I look forward to the first test.