We met him a few weeks ago, just before his departure, and now here we are listening to Enrico Rocchi and his Tandragee 100 adventure. In front of a nice pint of Guinness, of course.
While he talks about his first ever Irish road race, about that course that last year took his friend Dario Cecconi‘s life, about the amazing people he met, Enrico’s eyes shine. Tandragee 100 has been Bergamo based rider’s debut in road races abroad, but there is more: he realized what Dario used to say, that road racing world is so unique and people is always ready to help and welcome even the newest member or the last on the grid, sometimes despite the language barrier.
“We met the closest Dario’s friends straight away, in particular Des Hamilton, who has been amazing with us, we could always count on him; and also the Tandragee 100 organizers Anne Forsythe and Sheila, wonderful people…” says Enrico.
“By chance, then, our neighbour in the paddock was Stephen ‘Cargo’ Carr, who helped me as well with the bike staying with me during technical inspections and also on the grid. With Google translator, haha! Then I found out he was always near Dario in the paddock at every race”.
So you had great impression of your first ever Irish road race.
“Yes, 100%. Probably they don’t treat everyone like me and it was just because I was there for Dario, but we’ve been welcomed in a fantastic way. I was treated like a prince! People even came to ask me autographs! “.
“The Tandragee track is very fast and technical, you can find every characteristic you can think about: jumps, fast corners, slow corners, and it’s very narrow. Honestly I didn’t expect it so fast, you can watch a million video at home but none of them prepare you to the real speed and the real sloping. There are a couple of spots you reach at 230/240 kmh and you can just see the sky, nothing more”.
Before the races you have been asked by the organizers to retire at the 4th lap, or whenever the first riders would have started to overtake the last. What did you think about this decision?
“They asked me to retire at the 3rd/4th lap because I was not fast enough for that race. It was for safety reasons and I could have also disturbed the fight for the win. Even if there is not a rule for this, newcomers usually have to ride in other classes like the Support ones. But I only had a 1000cc and I was there to commemorate fellow Italian rider Dario Cecconi, so they accepted me in the Open races with riders like Dan Kneen, William Dunlop, McGee, Sheils… But they asked me to retire for safety reason and I completely understood it, especially after the practice sessions when I saw first hand how fast the first riders are. So I just have two DNF’s and I’m a bit disappointed with it, but I perfectly understood that request”.
Yes, there was just one Open group so that is totally understandable.
Are you going to do other road races this year and are you going back to Tandragee next year?
“I have no plans for other races this year. Next year I would love to come back to Tandragee, for sure with a different bike and better trained”.
“Absolutely, Italian Hillclimbings are nothing compared to Irish roads. I’ve had the most difficulties in the fast places of the track, because we are not used to those speeds in our races at home”.
One last question Enrico, what did you do to remember Dario?
“I was there for him and put a few stickers on my bike, but the organizers together with his family gave me a trophy called ‘Spirit of Tandragee’. I didn’t know anything about it and I was speechless. Last year they even organize a night with Italian food and Italian songs, but they never made this public. They don’t do things for publicity or to seek attention; they just care about the meaning. They are incredible people. I even spotted an Italian flag in front of a house!”