Bik­ing is a part of Bran­don, bro­ken bones and all ...

Teenage prospect revved up to whizz around Don­ning­ton Park for real

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

IT’S al­most im­pos­si­ble for Bran­don Staffen to ex­plain his love of mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ing but he’s cer­tain it’s been there since well be­fore he rode any­thing with two wheels.

The 15-year-old is ar­guably the most prodi­gious young tal­ent in South African mo­tor­bike rac­ing right now, and he’s achieved the re­sults to match his ob­vi­ous pas­sion.

In Septem­ber, the Dur­banville res­i­dent will achieve life­long dream when he com­petes in the United King­dom’s KTM RC Cup against some of the best young rid­ers in Europe, even though he be­gan rac­ing just three years ago.

“I’ve al­ways loved bikes. When­ever I came to Kil­lar­ney it was to watch the bikes and not the cars. We had been com­ing to rac­ing for years, since I was small and one day I said I wanted to race,” he said.

“My mom ac­tu­ally brought me to an event to try it out on the short cir­cuit when I was 13. I re­ally liked it and had fun. Then I did my first ever race and won it and I also won the first cham­pi­onship I took part in.

“If I knew then what I know now I would def­i­nitely have asked to race a car in­stead, be­cause I’ve bro­ken my­self a few times. I’ve had bro­ken col­lar­bones, bro­ken ribs, bro­ken fin­gers… all of that stuff.”

Though Bran­don had “no clue what he was do­ing” on that first oc­ca­sion, he has since come on in leaps and bounds. He claimed the NSF 100 Cham­pi­onship in his first and sec­ond sea­sons be­fore mov­ing up to the NSF 150 Cham­pi­onship in 2015 and tak­ing his third con­sec­u­tive ti­tle.

This year he joined the KTM RC390 Na­tional Cham­pi­onships, the South African equiv­a­lent of the UK’s KTM RC Cup, and is cur­rently lead­ing the ti­tle race. The teenager’s ac­com­plish­ments are even more im­pres­sive when you con­sider the fact that doesn’t race for an es­tab­lished team. In­stead, Bran­don’s push for mo­tor­cy­cling suc­cess has been man­aged and funded by his fa­ther since day one. Af­ter wit­ness­ing his son’s nat­u­ral abil­ity and pas­sion, Antony Staffen ap­proached friend, rac­ing ex­pert and name­sake Antony Lane to help him set up a team.

The rest is his­tory, and the fa­ther and son duo cur­rently spend most of their time trav­el­ling to ev­ery cor­ner of South Africa to par­tic­i­pate in races. Staffen se­nior also strug­gles to ex­plain why Bran­don loves the sport so much, but he has no doubt that it’s for his suc­cess.

“I think it’s his pas­sion for rac­ing and his raw tal­ent. It’s re­ally just in­side him, in his bones, in his makeup. He just loves it. His pas­sion for rac­ing is the rea­son he is where he is,” he said.

That raw tal­ent will be put to the test at Don­ning­ton Park in Derby, England on Septem­ber 17.

Bran­don’s en­try into the race came about af­ter the owner of a ma­jor in­ter­na­tional rac­ing ap­parel com­pany wit­nessed his tal­ent and of­fered to as­sist. The race will un­doubt­edly be his tough­est and most im­por­tant yet.

“It’s to test his abil­i­ties over­seas. Ob­vi­ously rac­ing over­seas in Europe is much big­ger and more ad­vanced than in South Africa,” Staffen said.

“To see whether he has the tal­ent and abil­ity to com­pete in­ter­na­tion­ally we have to put our foot in the wa­ter to see how he com­petes again the in­ter­na­tional rid­ers.”

Reach­ing the pin­na­cle of in­ter­na­tional mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ing is Bran­don’s long-term goal, but he says just rid­ing at Don­ning­ton Park will be a dream come true.

“Don­ning­ton Park is ac­tu­ally my favourite track in the world. I haven’t rid­den it but it’s my favourite track be­cause of games. Hope­fully I’m go­ing to do well there,” he said.

“If I’m on top form I can race against those peo­ple and win, but my goal is to hope­fully fin­ish in the top five be­cause all of those guys are good. They have more rid­ers in the front pack bat­tling for first than we do in our whole se­ries.”

Un­til he breaks onto the in­ter­na­tional scene, Bran­don aims to con­tinue dom­i­nat­ing the RC390 Na­tional Cham­pi­onships and pro­gress­ing through the lo­cal ranks.

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