KTM Enduro Racing Team rider on his Kilkivan AORC double.
KTM Enduro Racing Team’s Daniel ‘Chucky’ Sanders has been labelled as one of the riders to just maybe step up and take out this year’s Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC). After what he did at the opening two rounds last weekend at Kilkivan, Queensland, it’s hard not to see why he is one of the favourites for this year’s crown. The Victorian ace finally broke through to win his first ever Outright AORC round win on Saturday, then backed up his winning performance to take out round two on Sunday. MotoOnline.com.au was right there in the thick of the action to catch up with the 21-year-old after he won.
Chucky, first of all well, done on this weekend. Yesterday must have been a special feeling to finally win your first ever Outright victory, but to go back-to-back, what does it feel like right now for you?
Going back-to-back is obviously a massive confidence booster going into the season now. The championship is open this year to any of the racers with Toby [Price] not racing the AORC. We have the Four Day (A4DE) coming up soon in May, so having form at the start of the year is good. I knew coming into this weekend it was where I had my worse results in 2015, so I knew I had to improve here if I wanted to win and beat the other riders who are familiar with this terrain. Overall however, I’m stoked with how this weekend has played out. To be able to win this year’s opener was an awesome feeling and it is a big confidence boost, as I said.
You said this morning you were not hitting your lines correct in some of the early sprints. Then all of a sudden you found form, which ended up giving you that little bit of an edge over Josh [Green] to be able to take the victory in the end. What was the turning point do you think?
Obviously with a new track there are going to be fresh lines out there. You just have to have the confidence to nail it through certain places and gas it just that little bit more than the other rider. Having the confidence and making sure there are no rocks in the grass there and stuff. The track was quite good once it had some lines in there. It of course got rougher and rougher as the juniors rode on it yesterday, but I believe now that this is my third year in the AORC competition I have learnt a lot in regards to line selection, so it’s all about being a bit smarter and picking some nice smooth lines. Once I worked out my lines after a few sprints it all just rolled on from there and worked out well enabling me to push on and make back some time.
So from Kilkivan we head to Portland in New South Wales next at the beginning of April. From what has been said it is similar track conditions to what is here, so you must be pretty confident heading into the next two rounds.
Yeah, apparently it’s meant to be a bit tighter. Tighter the better for me. Hopefully we get some rain, as I like the rain and do my best in the wet stuff. We’ll be looking forward to that. Have a nice weekend off next weekend with the family over Easter, then put in another two weeks’ worth of hard training back at home. I’ll head into the next round of the AORC with the same expectations as here. The main thing is to make sure I finish within the top three at every single round and score points and also to stay fit and healthy, which is the key to putting a good championship together. So far so good, but there are still another 10 rounds remaining.
You just touched on the subject then about being ‘fit and healthy’. Since late last year you have lost a hell of a lot of weight, you look fitter than you have ever been before. Care to tell us what you have been doing during the off season?
Yeah, between Tim Cole who works for KTM Australia who does mine and Tye [Simmonds] training program and working with Darryl Griffiths from Shotz Sports Nutrition it has helped big time. There is no question about it. Darryl has been unreal, as he has been cleaning up my diet and cutting sugar out from what I eat. I have never felt so fit and strong in my life before, which is helping myself to get the maximum performance while I’m on the KTM 300 EXC. Both Tim and Darryl have worked together and have got me pretty much as fit as I can be coming into the season with the amount of time we had. As I said, I have never felt better on a bike than what I have now and I owe it all down to Tim and Darryl.
One last thing, this is obviously your second year with the KTM Enduro Racing Team. It seems as if you have slotted in really well with the whole team, because while it is serious when it has to be, there are still times for a good laugh along the way. How is life going within the team?
The team is great to race for. We are all here to archive the same goal, which is to win. Everyone from Ben [Grabham], Travis [Jarman], Michael [Carusi] and Tye all want to do the best as we possibly can. At the same time the atmosphere within the team is so laid back and we never forget to have a good time along the way, which is important. It makes it easy to go away racing. It’s like going away with your mates and having some fun on the weekends. All in all I couldn’t ask for a better team to be behind me, that’s for sure.
Fantastic. Well, once again well done, we’ll see you in a few weeks in New South Wales.
No worries, thank you.