Interview: Daniel Costilla, American CEV Racer
The latest in a series of interviews (Remy Gardner, Wayne Gardner, Nicky Hayden, and Gabriel Hernandez III) on the topic of getting young riders into a racing system currently dominated by Spanish and Italian riders, this interview with Daniel Costilla sheds some light on what it takes to do just that.
With his mind set on Grands Prix from an early age, Daniel and his family are doing what they must to get him onto grids with competition that will prepare him for the Moto3 World Championship.
Scott Jones: How old are you and where are you from?
Daniel Costilla: I’m fifteen years old and I live in Valley Center, California, which is about half hour north of San Diego.
SJ: Can you please tell us a bit about your riding and racing experience?
DC: I started riding motorcycles at around five years old. My first time on a bike was a Suzuki 50, which I continued riding for several years. Then I started going to little kart tracks to practice, it was just me and my dad, basically, sometimes my family, and we continued this until I was around 12 years old when I joined WERA to compete in their national series. In 2013 I continued on to the British Superbike series and the Monster Energy Motostar Class. [Daniel finished 15th overall out of 37 riders, with a season best 6th place finish Assen.] I did half the 2014 season in BSB, then at the end of 2014 I rode the final CEV Moto3 race at Valencia.
SJ: How did you pick British Superbike as a path in 2013?
DC: It came down to my family and me trying to decide where we wanted my career to go. Unfortunately, the competition here in the United States wasn’t that high, and in order for me to reach my dream of making it to MotoGP I needed really good competition.
So we decided to move to England and compete in the British Superbike series. It was a big shock at first, but my family and I handled it pretty well. We felt it was the right decision.
SJ: So rather than commute to the races, you and your family moved to the U.K. – which members of your family came with you?
DC: At first it was just me and my mom, then my brother come over later in the year. It was basically just the three of us.
SJ: How did you find the competition in the BSB Motostar class compared to what you’d seen at home in the U.S.?
DC: I’d say it was a lot higher. At first I was struggling a bit because the competition was a higher calibre, and because it was a new country, everything was new. I started toward the back of the grid, but even though I was struggling I was a lot happier because I knew I was competing against really good riders. That could only make me better. So it was a much better situation than we’d been in back in the United States.
SJ: Were you on a familiar bike in BSB Motostar or was that brand new to you as well?
DC: It was brand new to me, a KTM 125, so that was another learning curve to deal with.
SJ: And I suppose that was your first time racing outside the United States, so you were on a bunch of British tracks you’d not seen before, yes?
DC: Yes, first time racing in a different country, so it was tricky because the U.K. tracks are quite different from the U.S. tracks. So that was another big thing to learn.
SJ: Did you already have your eye on the CEV as the next step?
DC: Yes, for a long time, my family and I knew that since the CEV is one of the most competitive series, I should go there. BSB was a perfect stepping stone to get to the CEV, which is maybe the most competitive series outside of the [Moto3] World Championship. We’d been thinking about that a long time and looking for something maybe at the end of 2013, but I wasn’t really ready then. So we waited another year to make the jump to the CEV.
SJ: How did that first CEV race at Valencia go?
DC: It was with the Larresport team and it was good. I think we did well for what we had. I made the qualifying time for the race, but that weekend I think there were 57 entries, so it was quite a large field, really hard to get a qualifying lap in.
Daniel talks about the 2015 CEV season on the next page: