[Interviews]

Daniel Sanders’ insight into the ISDE

3 years ago | Words: Andy Wigan | Photos: John Pearson

At last year’s International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) in Slovakia, Australia walked away with every bit of silverware on offer. The Aussies created a slice of Six-Day history by winning the World, Junior and Women’s Trophy Team victories, plus the Watling Trophy, which is awarded to the most-improved country. So, what happened at the recent 2016 ISDE in Spain? Did lofty expectations play a part in our teams’ less remarkable results? Were our riders unable to properly adapt to the revised team and scoring formats introduced for 2016? Or was it simply Australia’s turn to cop a serve of bad luck?

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To get more of an insight into this year’s ISDE and the high-and low-lights of the Australian riders’ performance, Transmoto’s John Pearson asked last year’s ISDE E3-class winner, Daniel “Chucky” Sanders, to share his thoughts about the Aussies’ campaign at the Spanish ISDE. Here’s what Sanders had to say:

“After wining the E3 class and going fourth Outright at last year’s ISDE in Slovakia, I came into this year’s event thinking that I had a shot at the Outright. My plan was to defend my E3 title and run top-three Outright, but after a dominant year in Australia, I was confident I could do better. Plus I’d had the benefit of getting comfortable aboard the all-new 2017 KTM before the event. I’d raced the 2017 300EXC in the final four AORC rounds, so having the opportunity to fine-tune the bike’s set-up before the ISDE was a big advantage, too.

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“Initially, I was shattered not to win the Outright in Spain – mainly because I was never more than 20 seconds from the lead for the entire six days. But now that I look back on it, finishing second Outright – just 18 seconds off Taylor Robert – was pretty damn satisfying. I bagged my second E3 title in a row, improved on last year’s Outright result, and did enough to attract the attention of more Europe-based race teams. I think I’ve improved a lot since last year, mainly because I’m now making fewer mistakes under pressure. With such a deep field at the Six-Day, you just can’t afford to lose 10 or 20 seconds in a small crash, as it’ll push you way, way down the standings. It’s all about piecing sections of the track together, flowing, making sure you’re strong in every type of terrain, and on the pace in both the enduro-style tests and the final moto. That versatility was critical in Spain because half the event was dry, rocky and dusty, and the other half was wet and slick.

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“This year’s Six-Day was also a bit different for me due to the fact we lost Josh Strang with an injury on Day 1. That put our World Trophy Team out of the running, but it also allowed me to focus on my individual result and take a few more risks. We weren’t the only country to question the change to the smaller, four-man team this year, and the fact you couldn’t drop your worst rider’s score each day. I understand they made the change to reduce the expense for countries to enter a team. But on the flipside, with no ‘joker rider’, one injury or bike problem throws the chance of a decent team result out the window. And that means all the time and effort and cost in sending a team is suddenly wasted. For 2017, I hope they move to five riders per team, and reinstate the ability to drop one rider’s score.

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“It’s hard to reflect on this massive international event without also making mention of the afterparty. It’s always a memorable occasion because you get to have a few drinks with riders and fans from all around the world. After getting their historic first ISDE win, the American guys were super-stoked and letting their hair down more than most. It was an emotional win for them too, seeing as the late Kurt Caselli had played such a key role in laying the foundations for Team USA’s ISDE effort. I’m already looking forward to taking on the American and French teams next year, when the ISDE takes place in France.”

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