The need for speed is relentless in Daniel Falzon’s life. Every second counts when you’re a pro motorcyclist.
His current beast of choice is a Yamaha R1. “It’s a 1000 Superbike,” Daniel says. As bikes go, it’s the pinnacle. “The highest, fastest motorcycle you can race. You have to be over 16 in Australia to race them because it’s so powerful.”
We’re talking over 300 km/hour in a heartbeat. What does that feel like? “Honestly when you’re behind the screen of the windshield, it’s not too bad. Things are going really fast, but the moment you get out of the windshield and you break for the first turn, the wind hits you at 300 km/hour. It literallytries to rip your hands from the bars.” It requires a lot of strength, for which Daniel trains hard. He has to, the stakes are high.
After 10 years as a privateer with JD Racing, Daniel recently secured a ‘factory seat’ with Yamaha Australia. It’s a dream come true. “There are only about five positions in Australia for factory riders. They’re considered non-privateer riders – teams that are funded by the factories (Yamaha, Honda, etc). We’ve worked 10 years in the privateer team, and the guys from the factories look at the riders like scouts. They say, ‘Who’s got potential here, who can we potentially take and develop to be the best rider in Australia?’”
Daniel is a first-generation racer. His dad was an avid road rider and the love of motorcycles rubbed off. Daniel first rode a junior bike at Mallala Motor Sport Park at the age of 13. “I was scared shitless to be honest. Just prior to me going on the bike I witnessed my brother, who was having his first ride, crash on the track.”
The fear was short-lived. “I just remember being flooded with joy and emotions when I was racing because I enjoyed it so much right from the get-go… until I had my first crash about a year into it.” It was a shock to the system. “I remember thinking, ‘How much did I just cost Dad?’”
The reality of a pro racer is an expensive one. “The bike I’m on now cost about $40,000 to get it completely set up, and we have to have about three of them, just in case. You have to have a wet bike, which is a completely different set-up, and you have to have a spare bike as well (if you crash you need it as a back-up). That’s if you really want to take it to the top.”
Sponsors have been crucial. When Caterpillar Australia came on board in 2012 it was a game-changer. Daniel is now sponsored by Yamaha Motor Australia, Energy Power Systems CAT, William Adams CAT, Mainline Dynolog Dynomometers, Shark Helmets, Ixon, and Falco Boots. Cold, hard cash and killer kit is one thing, but he values his family’s dedication most.
His parents work hard to support his career. They clock up approximately 30,000 kilometres a year but wouldn’t have it any other way. Daniel’s trophies fill their home and his elder brother Jon, a mechanical engineer, is a major piece of the fast-moving puzzle. For the past decade, they’ve run the small but devoted Jon Daniels Racing team. “Mum does all the PR and Dad does all the managing,” Daniel says. His father also drives the team to events. “It’s been life-consuming. We haven’t missed a national race in 10 years, and there’s never been a home race.”
Daniel’s school, Rostrevor College, was also understanding. It paid off. Daniel has won five Australian championships since 2008, including back-to-back Australian Supersport 600cc Champion in 2013 and 2014, the 2016 Australian Superbike Privateer Champion, 2017 Chinese Pan Delta Superbike Champion, and 2017 Australian Superbike Privateer Champion. His current ranking is number four in Australia and he holds the lap record at four different circuits across Australia.
Previously, South Australia was the only state that didn’t hold a national road racing event (hence all the long road trips). This will change in 2018 with the ASBK championship heading to Tailem Bend. Daniel competed in the first round of the Australian Superbike Championship, run alongside the World Championship at Phillip Island during February.
Of the seven rounds in this year’s series, round three was held in South Australia (19 to 22 April) for the first time in 10 years. It’s thanks to the much-anticipated opening of The Bend Motorsport Park.
As racing idols go, Daniel looks up to Valentino Rossi. “His media presence is second to none and the way he relates to the public and speaks to the public is fantastic. He gives everyone time.”
There’s no slowing down in Daniel’s world. He recently completed a four-year bachelor of paramedical science. The irony of his chosen career is not lost on him. “I’ve got two different lifestyles right now. I was either at uni studying paramedics, or racing.” He smiles. “I’ve got a job lined up in October. I want to do both. I enjoy home life, I love living in Adelaide, so I don’t want to leave here.”
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