Rider Spotlight: Jason DiSalvo
NEWS February 16, 2012
Photo by Brian J. Nelson
AMAP: Where are you from?
JD: I’m originally from the Western New York area, smack dab between Rochester and Buffalo, a little place called Batavia, N.Y. My parents live in a town right next to Batavia, called Stafford. My wife and I just bought a place right outside of Birmingham, Ala., a town called Trussville. We’re 20 minutes from the front door of Barber Motorsports Park, so it’s really cool. I also like the fact that Triumph is going to be the title sponsor of the Barber SuperBike Classic this season. It’s really neat having all of that in my backyard. It’s all really nice how it all works together. The winter down here is much easier too; there’s not much training to be had in the off-season in New York.
AMAP: What was your first motorcycle?
JD: It was a 40cc Dandy pocket bike! You can see a picture of it on Triumph’s facebook page.
AMAP: How did you get into riding motorcycles?
JD: My dad actually raced in the 70’s. It was a passion of his that he really couldn’t get into until later in life. Once he was able to support the sport, he got into club racing and loved it. He only raced for four to five seasons, and was a little too old to race, and then I came along. He transferred that passion to me, and I took it from there. I don’t ever remember not riding a motorcycle; it’s always been something that’s part of my life.
AMAP: How did it feel to win the Daytona 200?
JD: It was incredible. To this day, I think back and the way that everything played out was surreal. I liked how it was a unique Daytona 200 with a unique victory. Most Daytona 200s come down to the line with one guy, maybe two. Typically, they cross the line alone. Last season, I came barreling into the tri-oval with seven-eight other guys. It felt more like a sprint race, which was cool. It’s something that I’ll always remember. We want to do it again, maybe in a more traditional way. [Laughs]
AMAP: Tell us about the late season switch from Ducati to Triumph..
JD: Towards the end of the season last year, we had our sights set on this year. We knew we’d be campaigning the Triumph, and I was going to be the rider. We wanted to get a jump on the motorcycle’s development, and mathematically, we were a long shot to take the championship. To be honest, second or third in the championship didn’t really appeal to us, so we wanted to make sure we made good progress with the motorcycle instead of finishing first. I literally have a stack of second and third place overall trophies, and we really want that first place trophy. It all really started last year, around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. I’ve been striving towards that goal for a long time, and I feel that it’s going to be next year.
AMAP: Out of all the motorcycles you have ridden, what’s your favorite?
JD: Triumph! I’ve spent a lot of time on the race bike and the street bike, and have helped on the development of the motorcycle. If I was going to buy a motorcycle for any form of riding (street, racing, track days, etc.) Triumph is the best value out there. You ride the 675R in street trim, it’s a very capable machine. I’ve done a lot of video work highlighting that. Every time I ride it, it surprises me.
AMAP: What would you say is your favorite racetrack?
JD: That’s tough, because there are so many great tracks out there that I’ve been too. Every track has its own qualities and characteristics. I’ve probably answered that question with 20 different answers! [Laughs] For sure, there’s been a fondness for Barber Motorsports Park, because I’ve gotten to spend more time on it. You fall in love with the track, facility and the people there. It’s one of those tracks that you never get bored with. There are 100 different ways to approach a section of the track, and each section has its own characteristic.
AMAP: What draws you to the sport? The thrill, speed or the competition?
JD: It’s motorcycles. That’s really what it is. The community and the industry that I’ve grown up with is what I’m here for. As a hobby, passion and a job, the motorcycle industry is where I want to be. I feel that racing is the pinnacle of the motorcycle industry, and I’ve been fortunate to do that for a long time. I’ve expanded to other parts of the industry, but racing was what got me into the industry and kept me there.
AMAP: What are your expectations going into 2012 with Triumph and your team.
JD: My personal expectation is to win the championship, but one of the nice things is that Triumph isn’t expecting that. This is the first year that it will compete at the highest level that it’s capable of. There’s not much pressure, but I know the team and I want to win. If we showed up with a showroom stock motorcycle, we’d still want it to be at the front. The fact that we’ve put so much time and effort into this race bike, we’re going to give it everything we have.
AMAP: How does your relationship with crew chief Ronnie Saner build confidence when racing a motorcycle?
JD: It was a great build experience last season. I was learning about them, and they were figuring me out. Now, this year, we’ll be learning a new bike together. Last year, Ronnie and I worked well right from the start. There are very similar ways on how we approach what a motorcycle should be. We have really strong communication. Prior to our first test, we made the motorcycle fit me through a series of four-hour phone calls. When the bike arrived, it was nearly perfect. He took every word and used it to set up the bike. That was one of the things with the Triumph, he’s going to be the guy that makes the it capable of getting on top of the podium. My team has what it takes to win, and now it’s a matter of waiting to race!
We also spoke with RSRacecraft's Ronnie Saner about the relationship between a rider and their crew chief, as well as what his expectations are for his team and Triumph's 675R.
AMAP: How critical do you think the relationship between the rider and his crew chief is in the development of a race bike?
RS: I think it goes way beyond the development of the race bike. It’s probably one of the most critical elements to a race team’s success. You can have really good equipment, but if that relationship is poor, you won’t get the results. You can also have below average equipment and perform well, thanks to an excellent rider/crew chief relationship. It goes way beyond the mechanical side of things. If the rider feels that he has the confidence of his crew chief, he’s more likely to give it 100 percent of his talent. If there’s good communication, a crew chief is able to access 100 percent of the machine’s capability. Many crew chiefs say, “This is the right way, this is how you’re going to do it, go ride the thing because I’ve been here for 20 years.” They are probably right, but they turn the rider off, and so the rider will go out and race with a closed-minded approach and perform at only 80 percent. There’s an emotional bond that is essential to performing well.
AMAP: How do you feel with Triumph as the team’s manufacturer?
RS: We’re really happy with Triumph. Even if you take the motorcycle out of the equation and talk about the people, it’s so much better than where we came from last year. Triumph consists of enthused people that build motorcycles that they are happy about. The office and staff ride to work, they get it. They’re motorcycle enthusiasts catering to motorcycle enthusiasts. It’s nice to be with a company that cares about what you’re doing. They have pride and want to see you do well. They have told us what they will do and then delivered on it. When it comes to a new motorcycle, there is a mountain of challenges that we face in competition. We bit off a big task, but have realistic goals and a manufacturer who supports us. We plan on winning races on it…
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