It’s not all about cars in the Andros Trophy. The bikes of the AMV Cup form a major part of each race weekend. Wanting to know more about ice racing on two wheels, there was no one better to talk to than the eight-time champion and title defender Sylvain Dabert.
Sylvain, what are your personal goals this season, besides winning?
Winning races is obviously our main goal and winning a ninth championship even more. Especially, because I really want to match the current record of nine championship wins.
Winning eight championships in a field as competitive as this one is extraordinary, what’s your edge?
One of my strengths is qualifying. I somehow have a talent to take pole position on my first lap, even when I don’t really know the track. Look at the results of my latest qualifying: I immediately took pole on my first try, my other laps weren’t as fast. Obviously, I’ve been here before, but the conditions are always different, and I apparently manage to adapt really quickly. On top of that, the tyres and spikes are at their best during the first lap, after that, they start to wear out.
You are also about three seconds faster than the cars are. I wouldn’t expect that at all, given they are four-wheel drive thoroughbreds.
Yes, (laughs) we are always faster than the cars! The gap between the bikes and the cars really depends on the type of track. Here it’s around two to three seconds, but in some other places, it can be as much as seven seconds per lap. We are much more agile than the cars and we can carry greater corner speeds.
The conditions here in Andorra are warmer than usual which makes for a much less icy track with big patches of tarmac showing. In the paddock, we’ve heard mixed reactions. What’s your take on these conditions?
Well, I’m here to race on ice. So, I much rather prefer that than the conditions we have now. But nevertheless, I still feel comfortable enough to be quick in these conditions as well. I’ve been doing this for such a long time that I’ve pretty much seen every condition there is, so there are no real surprises for me here.
You also ride in Supermoto, which, to the untrained eye, may look similar to ice racing. Are both types of races comparable?
Although both disciplines are all about sliding, there is no real comparison. The riding style is very different. With Supermoto, you are very aggressive on your front brake which unsettles the bike and throws it into a slide, whereas here on the ice, it’s much more about balancing the bike when sliding. We do use the front brakes, but not nearly as aggressive as with Supermoto.
Apart from what you are doing now, have you been looking at other disciplines as well?
I’ve pretty much done it al. I’ve done motocross as a kid and from age 14 to 16, I did enduro racing. I still enjoy motocross a lot because I love jumping a bike. This is something you don’t do in the AMV Cup or Supermoto. During summer, when it’s too hot to wear leathers, I love to jetski as well. As long as I have a handle bar in my hands, I’m happy.