After previously coming so close but getting no cigar, Danny McCanney finally added the British Enduro Championship title to his first-class CV in 2018. We caught five minutes with the Manxman to find out what it means and where he's at.
Back on a Gas Gas and back on a 300 two-stroke, former indoor and outdoor Junior World Champion, Danny McCanney has had a successful 2018 by any measure. After coming literally within seconds of winning the British Championship in recent years, the Manxman sure got a monkey off his back in style by dominating his domestic championship with eight wins from nine rounds.
At EnduroGP level things “haven’t quite clicked” as he puts it, but still McCanney has podiums in what has proved a highly competitive World Championship season. We caught up with Danny as he negotiated the monkey enclosure at Knowsley Safari Park…
Your British Championship season couldn’t have gone any better really, nearly a 100% record with only one second place from nine rounds…
Danny McCanney: “Yeah, it has been a good year. It was only really the one round at Rhayader where I dropped the overall win. Every other round I was fastest overall and that was really pleasing. One of the best things about it really. It’s hard to think of the last time someone has done that across the whole season.
“It’s been good to add the British title to the list after the World Indoor, outdoor Junior titles it needed ticking off the list!”
You picked up an injury at the last GP [Italy] which meant you missed the last British rounds, how’s the wrist?
“It’s been a bit frustrating in a way because it has been hard to diagnose. It is still sore but I have been having acupuncture and laser treatment with a specialist. The initial x-ray wasn’t clear whether there was a break or not and it has been really difficult to get an MRI scan.
“I hope it will be ok going to the French GP, that’ll be two weeks under my belt without touching a bike which should be a good time to heal. It’s been frustrating not being able to train but it’s the best thing for me right now to let it heal.”
How important it the British Championship to you? It must be important to Gas Gas to have these national titles but it matters to you as a rider no doubt?
“Yeah, for sure. It has been so close a couple of times in the past, really close and to have just missed out twice was frustrating. So to get it done this year is a weight off my shoulders.
“It was good for me but also good for Gas Gas to get it done because the last time Gas Gas won a British Championship was with Juan Knight way back in early 2000s.”
Did you feel any extra pressure to do it this year?
“Not really at the start because I came into the first round after injuring myself only a few weeks before. Then when I got the double win there the pressure got a bit bigger because you want and expect to do it again next time.
“Then each time I got the overall after that the expectation goes higher on myself because I wanted to win every race.”
Do you run a different bike, your own bike in the UK? Is it the same set-up as your GP bike?
“I basically have my own bike at home which I look after and have some valuable help from Juan Knight in the Isle of Man. At GP’s I have a factory bike which in theory is the same in every way but for some reason I can’t put my finger on, my own bike which I fettle myself feels different and I’m more comfortable with it. There’s no reason for it except maybe because I’m working on it I’m therefore more familiar with it – it’s just one of those things.”
Does racing the national series fit well with the EnduroGPs? The training, the travel and the logistics?
“Actually, this year has worked out really well. The early rounds came at a good time to get some extra bike and racing time in the bag ahead of GPs and then during the two-month summer break in GPs the British round in Rhayader was good timing to keep things boiling.”
You must clock up some travel miles and time on the Steam Packet ferries – is that just part of the deal being a pro sports person who lives in the IOM?
“That’s one of the things with the British Championship being mostly over in the mainland UK – the extra expense and time involved in competing. It is part of the deal but it adds to everything you do.
“It was good this year to have a round come over. The Manxduro was great and showed some of the other boys what’s involved for us every time we go racing. They had it for one round and got a taste. It would be good if it could return next year if the club want to do it.”
Has it been good to be back with Gas Gas again this year?
“It really has. It feels like the right package for me and it works well, the bike works well, the team works well at GP level and at home with Juan [Knight] and John Shirt [UK Gas Gas importer] helping me it is a good set-up.
“The thing is after swapping different bikes, different types of bikes over previous years, it is great to be on the 300 two-stroke. It suits me and I know it suits me. That’s the bike I will stick with from here on because I know what works for me.”
Switching to the Enduro World Championship, how has your 2018 panned out? (At time of writing there are two rounds remaining and Danny sits third in E3/eighth overall).
“It’s a funny one because I have approached every round in exactly the same way but something hasn’t quite clicked at each round really and I feel like there’s something missing each time. I haven’t felt like myself or really like I do in the British Championship. I can’t explain it – although I wish I could. And then I picked up the injury on day one in Italy.”
There’s an unwritten rule in racing isn’t there about first beating your team-mate? You’ve traded places with your team-mate [Christophe Nambotin] all year in E3, what’s it like racing the guy next to you in the awning each weekend?
“There’s no problem at all, it is simply someone I have to beat. You naturally want to beat your team-mate, as any rider in a team does. Having a rider that good is more of a challenge but that makes you try harder and, like I say, it is just someone else to beat. The person you want to beat the most in a way. We get on fine though, he’s a good guy and we are both very professional.”
Across the whole season in GPs there aren’t many people racing in E3 anymore, which is a shame. Why do you think that is? The 300 2T is a popular bike…
“I’m not sure why that is but it is a shame. I expected it to be bigger in 2018 with the World Championship rule changes back again to more classes but it hasn’t really happened in E3. It’s not nice to see a decrease.
“The reality is though you always compare yourself in the overall standings – in the tests and after each day, it’s the overall result you compare yourself against and the class is an extra really.”
The GP paddock doesn’t always seem as full of riders as it used to be but from where we watch it seems super-competitive with a very high level of riding this year – if you want to win you have to be 100% on your game…
“Yeah, very much so. The level is high right now and across the different classes. That’s why it matters to look at the overall results and measure yourself against everyone.”
Is your plan to keep on keeping on in 2019? British Champs and EnduroGP E3 again or have you still to make that decision – still with Gas Gas?
“Yeah, I have a two-year deal with Gas Gas so that is nice looking forward and going into the winter. We haven’t sorted out exactly what we’ll do next year yet in terms of British, Sprint championships and so on, but for now we’re still concentrating on the last EnduroGP rounds and being fit for the end of this year.”
Photo Credit: Future7Media/Andrea Belluschi
Jon PearsonEnduro21 Editor and Bike Testerjon.firstname.lastname@example.org