Australian Dan Stauffer had plans to give the New Zealand superbike racers a bit of a shake-up during the International Tri Series road-race competition.
But, just like the popular Elvis song, it’s the Queenslander who is getting “all shook up”.
He arrived in the country to race for the Wanganui-based Bernard Yamaha Racing Team with a slight problem, a fractured bone in his right hand, thanks to a spill at a recent event, and that means it has been extremely painful for him every time he’s been expected to shake hands.
“People probably think I’ve got a very limp handshake or something,” he laughed. “I try to shy away from shaking hands at the moment.”
Second in the Australian Superbike Championships in 2007 and third in 2008, the 33-year-old Queensland rider has always been a top three contender across the Tasman – “apart from when I’ve been injured, which has been too often,” he smiled — but this year is his first time in New Zealand as a racer.
“I have been here before, to go snowboarding in Queenstown, but this is the first time I’ve come here to race,” he said.
“I crashed at a car-bike meeting and fractured a bone in my hand but it’s not really affecting my ability to race. The riding is fine; it’s just handshakes that give me problems. The people are really friendly here … and that’s caused me grief.
“I have always wanted to race in New Zealand. Gareth Jones is a friend of mine and I thought I’d follow his tracks here.”
Fellow Australian Jones rode, with outstanding success, for the Bernard Racing Yamaha Team on several occasions over the past few years.
“I don’t know too many of the riders from these parts but I have previously raced against Robbie Bugden and Andrew Stroud. I knew I’d have my work cut out.”
Stauffer finished a creditable fifth overall in the superbike class at the International Tri Series opener at Hampton Downs, near Meremere, last weekend but he immediately returned to Australia to honour another commitment and race in a Formula Extreme Race meeting at Winton, near Melbourne this weekend. This means he’ll miss round two of the Tri Series at Manfeild on Saturday.
But Stauffer will be back for the Tri Series finale, the famous Cemetery Circuit race meeting on the streets of Wanganui on Boxing Day.
The Boxing Day spectacular will be Stauffer’s first time racing on a street circuit.
“We don’t do anything like that in Australia at all. I don’t know what to think about it. I’ll just have to make my mind up when I get there but racing is racing. I’ll do the street race at Paeroa (on February 20) too.
“Every circuit has its own challenges but, if I treat these places with respect, I should do okay. I’m really looking forward to it.”
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com