'We will keep battling' - Dan Linfoot and TAG Racing aiming for strong finish in face of British Superbike frustration
Dan Linfoot has had to show typical Yorkshire resilience in the British Superbike Championship this season.
The 33-year-old TAG Racing rider has endured a difficult campaign for a second successive year but a positive attitude in the face of adversity is helping keep smiles on faces in the Linfoot garage across race weekends.
A chatter issue – sharp juddering at the front or back of the motorbike – saw the TAG team scrap the entire 2020 season after just three starts and has reared its head again, although it hasn’t been terminal this time around.
On the face of it, 2021 has been a huge improvement for Linfoot, who believed last year to be among the worst of his stellar professional racing career.
He is back on a bike in the premier class and has only failed to finish one race aboard his new Honda Fireblade due to a mechanical issue, scoring points in 16 out of 21 outings in the championship.
Linfoot, though, is used to fighting at the front of the BSB paddock and a best result of eighth – which came last Sunday at Norfolk circuit Snetterton alongside a first DNF of the year - will have provided some hope.
But it is not what he had in mind at the beginning of the season.
“It’s been disappointing on the whole if I’m honest and the team would say that as well,” he said. “It’s been incredibly tough to accept where we keep finishing and not improving our result.
“Since the (Pirelli) tyres have changed to a different size, I think some of the riders have adapted better to them than others. I think it’s a mix of everything as to why we aren’t quite where we want to be.
“The bike is all there in theory and all the spec and the parts are all as they should be but we still have similar issues to what we had last year. It’s certainly not as bad, but I do experience the chatter issue four or five laps after the start of each race.
“It’s just the feeling between me, the bike and the tyres – it’s a collective battle we have to figure out together as a team. Maybe it’s a bit of how I ride too, my riding style or how I apply control to the bike that doesn’t bring the feeling that enables me to push harder.
“It’s not just us that are struggling with it as a team, the current reigning champion Josh Brookes (PBM Ducati) has been really struggling and you can visibly see that.
“I believed we could keep improving the package throughout the year to be pushing for the top five but we seem to have frozen in the position that we are. I keep finishing in the same sort of area and it’s a cycle I need to break out of.”
It’s fair to say the BSB season has been a hectic affair following a delay to the start of the 2021 campaign.
Organisers MotorSport Vision Racing (MSVR) opted to move the beginning of the championship to the end of June to allow spectators to return amid Covid-19 restrictions being lifted – a switch that meant 11 rounds of triple-header races would be undertaken in a condensed 16-week period.
“From a technical point of view we’ve had very minimal testing time in a relaxed environment to try and work on our issues,” Linfoot added.
“But in terms of the racing, it’s been quite good to race regularly because you find a rhythm and a feeling with the bike and you can push at a race meeting every week.
“Obviously, the negative to that is that you can have a tip off and you can easily be missing for two or three rounds because of a bang to the hand or shoulder.”
In his career, Linfoot has raced across Europe and the world but at home on British shores the BSB paddock boasts one of the most competitive domestic competitions.
Ryo Mizuno, who finished fourth in the All-Japan Road Race Championship in 2019, is circulating on the edge of the points in his first season as are others with plenty of experience from different championships.
“It’s intense and it’s as competitive as it gets. For me the top 18 are all world-level calibre riders,” Linfoot said.
“For example, Xavi Flores was in World Superbikes for four or five years and I’m finishing close to him in most races (outside the top 10). The level is incredible. It always is. BSB is seen globally as probably a small step down from the world stage.
“But when you’re finishing where I am between ninth and 13th consistently, you’re never satisfied and I couldn’t care less who the other riders are, I just want to get to the front.”
It has been tricky for Linfoot to see the light this season but every round brings new opportunities to wipe the slate clean and start again.
Hopes of finishing inside the top eight and earning a spot in the coveted end of season showdown – a final three round shoot-out for the BSB title from riders who qualify – have gone with Linfoot sitting 16th in the standings.
There are, though, still 12 races before the off-season comes, which leaves time to find a spark and cure the TAG Racing woes before winter arrives, starting with this weekend’s meeting at Silverstone.
“The plan is just to improve each weekend as best we can,” Linfoot concluded.
“We just want to try and get some strong results now in these last few rounds before the season closes.
“To have some satisfying results by the end of the year would be the plan.
“By no means finishing where I am at the moment do I feel remotely satisfied at any point. If by the end of the year I could have some top fives or snip a podium that would give me some partial satisfaction.
“It’s quite difficult at the moment to see a way out because it’s not a position any of us are used to.
“We’re trying lots of different things and just getting the same feel. But we will keep battling until the end.”
Dan Linfoot recently launched Woodcote Events, a premium motorcycle experiences company, which offers the opportunity for motorcycle fans to get closer to their racing heroes, both past and present, by riding with them to some amazing locations across the globe:
"Myself and my partner Gareth had a discussion about launching this during Covid and we couldn't think of a better time to do so when restrictions got lifted," Linfoot said.
"We planned to launch it when travel was opening up and that's exactly what we have done. It's an exciting prospect. We hope we can provide packages for all sorts of people with a view to letting them get out on their bikes and meet some of their heroes."
Click here for more information and a to view the full range of packages on offer.
Dan also launched motorcycle trade centre IBuyAnyBike.com during the first Covid-19 lockdown to great success - you can also click here to view the full range of stock.