It may be a long way from Madrid in Spain to Hampton Downs in New Zealand, half a world away in fact, but David Vazquez is fast adapting to the Kiwi lifestyle and loving every minute of it.
The 44-year-old multi-time former Spanish motorcycle champion, who moved from inland Madrid to live in Pontevedra, on the north-west coast of Spain, a few years ago, ventured on an even bigger journey when he made his first visit to New Zealand this season.
It is a trip that wasn’t really planned and came about almost by accident when New Zealand race fans Matt McLaughlin and John Hendriks got together to bring a Spanish rider across to race for their Dr Du Little Racing Team in the 2015 New Zealand Superbike Championships.
They approached the experienced Vasquez and asked if he could give them a list of potential candidates to race their Yamaha R6 in the 600 Supersport class in New Zealand this summer.
None of the young Spanish riders were able to make the trip and so Vazquez, who races for the LaGlisse Team in Spain, was persuaded to put his name on airplane tickets instead.
The journey didn’t begin well, with Vazquez’ bags being lost by the airline and he was forced to borrow riding gear for round one of the New Zealand Superbike Championship at Ruapuna, on the outskirts of Christchurch, in February.
“The sleeves (on the leather riding suit) didn’t come right the way down my arms,” laughed the tall and lanky Vazquez.
But the bag was located before the next event and he was comfortable again, although he confesses he’s also probably better suited to a larger 1000cc superbike than the Yamaha R6 supersport bike he’s been provided.
“I love the bike but I’m all arms and legs on it. I’m too tall and I might be a bit heavy too for the 600cc bike. I’d love to come back and race next year, maybe on a R1 Yamaha superbike,” he grinned.
“I think I could be among the top three on a superbike.
With the moniker “Buitre” (Vulture), it is certain the always-smiling Vazquez likes to fly, but luck has not been on his side this trip, with a 12th placing at round two of the New Zealand series his best result in the 600cc class thus far.
If he can return next season he will at least have had some experience on the New Zealand tracks because every race so far has been on unfamiliar ground and a big learning experience.
Vazquez is supported by Dr Du Little Racing, Henriks Blasting, Team LaGlisse Spain, Kats, Pirelli, Horton Signs and JDAS.
There is one more chance to see Vazquez in action, at the fourth and final round of the New Zealand Superbike Championships in Taupo this weekend.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
Find BikesportNZ.com on FACEBOOK here