be_ixf;ym_202111 d_30; ct_100
Darian Sanayei at the 2017 Grand Prix of Argentina

Postcards from another life

Aug 162017

#57 made quite an impression in 2016. Six race wins and the No.2 plate in the EMX250 European Championship – the last vaulting board into Grand Prix – marked the Washington state native as one of the next big things on the international motocross stage. Sanayei could have stayed in the States and worked his way through the traditional route of Supercross and Motocross career gains but instead opted for FIM World Championship recognition and education and on tracks submerged in cultures from Asia to Europe to South America.

Groomed by Kawasaki and placed in the confines and care of the British Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki MX2 team for his first season in MXGP (a nineteen round calendar no-less and his longest competitive campaign to-date) Sanayei has shown flashes of real promise while also feeling the sharp end of the sport on occasions; the low point coming in the almost-impossible heat of Ottobiano in Italy where he collapsed and crashed with heat stroke and missed the next fixture in Portugal.

Darian has also been quick, aggressive and fearless and a brace of top ten results have hinted at plenty more to come.

2017 has been a pivotal year in the young American’s life as he not only learns on the track but away from it. Distant from family, friends and confidants his journey in Grand Prix is unlike most others. Wanting to know more about this slightly shy but also friendly and very accessible athlete we sat down to talk over breakfast in the green confines of the DRT awning.


How have you found the full-on continental experience this year?

I was definitely a bit more prepared this year whereas last season I had no idea what I was getting into. Some things changed for me though: I switched teams and am living in England instead of France and tackling the world championship instead of European. The flyaways were a completely new experience as well. I’ve been kinda used to living out of a suitcase for quite a while now and I’m living with my mechanic and his girlfriend in England, with my own room. So I am trying to find my own life and doing that the best I can at the moment.

Treading a path a few others have done in terms of American riders coming over to Europe; are you finding similar experiences?

The most similar right now is probably [Zach] Osborne because he was on the same team and his place in the beginning was ClubMX and I knew him from there. I didn't try to do the same thing he did but it just fell a bit like that. So it is a guideline because he succeeded and did really well. I think it is difficult for any Americans to come over to Europe but I am doing it for the dream and I’m making a sacrifice in some way…but it’s what I want to do.


Did the country and language have a bearing on riding for this team?

For sure. I had a couple of options and was trying to gauge which one was the best and it is not a ‘task’ to go to the store anymore. The main ‘difficulties’ come from being away from home and friends and family. Being in England is nice and I can go and talk to people and don't have to struggle. You don't think ‘dang, this sucks’. Everyone at the Bud Racing team was really nice and kind to me but it is kinda difficult when you cannot have a conversation. There were times when I would go a few days without talking to a single person!

What is it like in England? Have you found a routine? A local Starbucks?

I don't really hit Starbucks anymore…it’s mainly Costa! I’ve ‘gone over’! Most of life revolves around training and I go to the gym near Jordan’s [his mechanic] house pretty much every day and then go riding as much as we can – as much as the local tracks will let us. At the moment it really isn’t a life away from riding and training. Watching Netflix mainly! I’m working with Steve [Dixon, Team Owner] to try and get a car…The main difference in England compared to America is that everything is…old! You can see the history. In America you’ll see a building that had been constructed 100 years ago and think ‘that’s old!’ In England there are things that are centuries old. It makes you appreciate how new the U.S. is. So there is a lot of scenery and a lot of farms; the country is quite small but there is still a lot of green land. It is quite beautiful actually.


Are you someone who appreciates things like that?

Yeah sure, I want to appreciate as much as I can in this life and I still think I made the right decision by coming over. I’m using anything and everything I can to better myself.

It is an unusual career-choice…

Sure…in the U.S there is almost a ‘make it or break it’ deal. You go up [turn Pro] and if you are not hitting it right away then you tend to get written-off. You see it with a lot of guys where their career doesn't really go up anymore; it kinda stalls-out. So I think I made a good decision to come here, get experience and do good. I believe in myself and I know I will be a top guy one day. I feel it is making my career and bit longer. I’ll do a couple of years here and if it is going well then hopefully a couple more and eventually go back and have a good career as well.


Are you wary of dealing with life away from the track if things are perhaps not going so well?

I am aware of that but I think I try not to complicate things too much. I just try to do the best I can every time and try to get the best start and race the track to the best of my ability. I do understand being homesick and issues like that and being over here I have the feeling that I don't really have anyone in my corner. In America I had my Dad, I still talk to him on the phone but it’s not quite the same. It’s a long season and mentally I try not to take-on those highs and lows too much, I try to stay level-headed. You can get like that though: in Argentina I did really well but then in Mexico I did so badly! I am not making excuses but I want to learn as much as I can.

Do you think you need a special character to go to the other side of the world?

I don't know if you need a special character but you need to have the heart and the tenacity to do it.

What about following someone like Thomas [Kjer Olsen] who was winning EMX250 races like you last season. How soon will it be before you start making a step and results like him?

I think I will get more confident and better as the season goes on. I think my confidence, my condition, the bike, the team, everything will be getting better. At the end of the day in motocross you need a good start and to be pushing the entire time to be up front. Anywhere you go the level is high and you wont get anything easily. If you want to be at the front you have to give absolutely everything you have.