Avid Cambridge News readers will remember Dillon Telford, the local superbike rider who competed in the Italian Superbike Championship series last year with surprisingly fantastic results. Well he’s back at it again, jetting off to Italy on Thursday to compete in the 2018 round.
“We sort of know what we’re in for this time,” Dillon said before he left the country. “It made sense for us to go to Italy last year. The best riders in the world are from Italy and Spain, so it’s definitely the capital, if you want to go racing against the hardest competition, that’s where you go. … So to be able to accomplish what we did in our first season was really, really awesome.”
Dillon, supported by his girlfriend and mechanic Jo Taylor under the Telford Racing team banner, competed on unknown circuits against 40 of the world’s best in last year’s six-month series, placing as high as tenth place in the second to last round, and 16th in the final round – having climbed up ten positions when a mysterious bike tampering led to a low qualifying spot. They rounded out the series 28th overall, but now equipped with knowledge and experience, they hope to finish within the top five or ten this year.
“The first half of the championship was almost just like, oh my god how are we going to do this, how are they so fast, and then we just chipped away at it and finally figured it out a little bit. It really accelerates your knowledge when you go over and you’re in an environment like that, it’s a sink-or-swim type of place. There’s a few tricks that we learnt over there that we would have never figured out over here.
“But I think the biggest accomplishment was being able to stay there for the whole six months and finish the championship, because it was looking a bit doom and gloom half way through when a sponsor pulled out, it seemed like we weren’t even going to be able to finish the third round, so to do all six, and the wild card as well, without a single crash, getting faster and faster every race weekend, it was pretty much as ideal as you could possibly go for your first time overseas.”
This year Dillon will race with the Gabro Racing team – whom he raced with during last year’s wild card round, and won. “We know that we work really well with this team already, with a good result under our belt to start off the relationship.”
It was an emotional moment when Dillon stood at the top of the podium at Mugello in August last year, having dreamed of racing in the Italian series since boyhood. “It was really awesome to stand on the podium and have the New Zealand national anthem sing out throughout the Italian circuit… It was a dream come true, I would never have thought I could win in Italy on an Italian bike.”
But win he did, and now the lucky bike he raced on with Gabro Racing at Mugello, the Aprilia Tuono V4, will be the bike Dillon uses throughout this year’s series, made even better with a faster engine installed.
“Knowing what the circuits are like, and how the race weekends work, and all that knowledge, we’re just jumping into where we were before, we’ve got data and information to start from, whereas before everything was an unknown… The competition is just as hard as it was before, but we’re a bit better prepared in that sense.
“We’d like to get another podium or another win if we can, because we know we can do it… Our race pace from last year, going into this season, is already putting us inside the top ten, so if we can start exactly where we left off, we’re going to be in a really good position.”
Keep an eye out in Cambridge News to see how Dillon gets on. For up to date news, and to help support the grassroots team, visit www.patreon.com/tr20.