Twenty-one-year-old KTM Enduro Racing Team rider Daniel Sanders’ head is still spinning
The charismatic young Victorian known as ‘Chucky’ left Australia as the fourth fastest rider in the Australian Off-Road Championships, and returned from Kosice in Slovakia as the top E3 rider and fourth-fastest enduro rider in the world.
Sanders was one of Australia’s big winners when he completed this year’s International Six Days Enduro, considered the ‘Olympics of enduro’, powering his two-stroke KTM 300 EXC to fourth in overall classification.
It was definitely Australia’s year at the ISDE, with Sanders’ Junior Trophy (Under 23) team, which included his KTM Enduro Racing Team mate Tye Simmonds, KTM-mounted Tom Mason and Broc Grabham, winning the Junior team classification ahead of Sweden and Italy, and our women’s squad dominating proceedings from start to finish.
Australia’s senior World Trophy team led the event for four days before being somewhat controversially relegated to second, where they would ultimately finish in what was still Australia’s best overall finish ever.
Sanders became the only Aussie to win his capacity class when he secured the E3 Championship for KTM.
As Tye Simmonds has done all year since his return to racing and switch to off-road racing, he again made spectacular work of a brand new competitive experiences, finishing 10th in the hyper-competitive E2 class in what was – almost unbelievably – his second ever enduro, and the first where the former MX pro had to work on his own bike and change his own tyres!
KTM’s World Enduro Champion Matthew Phillips was disappointed with his performance, but still contributed a top-five E2 finish, which was enough to help the World Trophy team to its best-ever finish.
Daniel ‘Chucky’ Sanders – KTM 300 EXC – “It’s just a crazy feeling. I’m rapt with how things turned out, I couldn’t really ask for anything better. I had no idea I could do that, not this year, maybe in a couple of years time. Fourth overall, first in E3 class and winning the juniors, and with the senior team winning and the girls winning, it’s pretty much the perfect week for us. We partied hard just to show we deserve it, and had a good time. Myself, Tye, Mick, his helper and Kearney were still going strong at 7.30 the next morning!
“We realised on day one in the juniors after we got a gap on all the other riders, that we had the fastest team and that we could do it if we all stayed on two wheels and finished every day.In my class I got into the lead on day two and kept pulling a bigger and bigger gap so I came into the final Moto with a two-minute lead and I had about 40 seconds on fifth outright so Iknew all I had to do was hold it together and not get lapped. I got a good start in the final Moto and tried to just stay consistent and I was really happy with it. After I rode around the last corner my old man jumped over the fence and celebrated with me a bit and that felt good to have my family there, they’ve put a lot of effort into my racing career so far, so to achieve those things early in my career is a very memorable thing and really puts a big smile on my face.”
Ben Grabham, Team Manager – “I kept in touch with both Chucky and Tye via text and I’d watch the special test results. I’m pretty excited for Chucky – for a lot of people it might have come as a surprise but for me it’s not. He works as hard or harder than every other rider out there with training and diet and whatever you have to do to do well. So it doesn’t really surprise me, it looks like everything’s come together for him and I’d say he’s learned quite a bit from these six-days, both with confidence, and what he can actually do on a bike, and just knowing his preparation, like he took every little bolt and thing that we had on his race bike here, he made sure his bike was going to be exactly the same. He did everything he could to get the best result and you can see it in his outcome. Obviously Tye, it was his first time at a proper big enduro let alone a six-day, so he’s done really well. It definitely would have been a huge eye-opener for him and a massive learning experience, just changing tyres and everything that went with it. I consider he’s done himself proud over the six days as well.”
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