“It’s a bit surreal really, as a kid riding motorbikes you see your favourite athletes wearing Monster and it’s a bit of a dream to be like them one day. Ryan Villopoto is one of my idols, so to be part of the group who gets to wear the claw – it’s pretty special.”
Dan Bewley is sat on the edge of his race van. He’s just blown off some pre-season cobwebs by cutting some laps at a small, private circuit near his home in Cumbria, England when his phone rings.
He doesn’t recognise the number, so he puts his phone back in his pocket. “Ring it back, Dan, honestly,” he is told.
The call is answered by RV2 himself, “Welcome to the family, buddy!”
As welcomes go, it was a pretty good one for the young speedway star. “I was just starstruck! I used to watch Ryan growing up when I was racing motocross and he was my one big hero really, so when he answered the call I didn’t know what to do!”
Bewley is the latest member of our speedway roster, and it comes at a time when his career takes a huge leap forward. Just a few days before we met up with Dan at home, he was told that he would be a permanent member of the 2022 Speedway Grand Prix series after being promoted from first reserve.
It would be easy for a young racer to feel daunted at the prospect of preparing for a full GP season at little more than a month’s notice, but Dan doesn’t really do fuss.
He said: “Obviously I was a bit surprised to get the call, and I was gutted for Artem (Russian racer current world champion Artem Laguta, who will not race in the series this year) because he is a great guy, but it’s a big chance for me."
“I actually wasn’t sure, I got a text from a friend saying I’d be in but it wasn’t confirmed for a few days. It’s unexpected, but I’ve got enough time to prepare and to make sure I’m set for it."
“I’m lucky that I already had a good set-up to race in Europe, I just had to get an extra mechanic and arrange some of the logistical stuff like travel and hotels but that’s not too hard. It’s come earlier than I thought but it’s a cool opportunity and I can’t wait to get started with it.”
Dan’s ascent to the top table of the sport has been rapid. A motocross prodigy, he only started racing speedway because some of his friends had tried it and, at 15, he was a late starter.
His talent was obvious from the outset and, so far, he has taken every step up in his stride.
“So far everything has gone as well as I could hope really, from my first season to now it’s been good but it’s not been easy. I remember my first season, there were times when I was wondering whether I’d made the right decision to switch from motocross!"
“The last couple of years especially have gone well, I’ve taken a step forward by racing in Europe regularly and this year is going to be another one. Originally, I was planning for the European Championship this season and that was a big target for me, but now I’m in the full GP series it’s a bit different."
“I just wanted to keep making progress. I’m not going to set myself big targets, I want to enjoy it. I’m going to some amazing places, riding my bike and I want to have fun with it. Hopefully, I can get some good results as well.”
Last year saw the 22-year-old etch his name into British speedway history when he was part of the Great Britain team who won the Speedway of Nations championship. It was GB’s first team success on the world stage since 1989, and Dan played a huge role in securing it.
Initially selected as first reserve, Bewley was parachuted in for the second day of the two-day event when good friend Tai Woffinden crashed heavily on day one.
It wasn’t until the morning of the race that it was confirmed Dan would take his place. Trying to secure Great Britain’s first gold medal in over thirty years, in front of a home crowd, is pressurised enough. Replacing the country’s greatest ever rider to do it? Sheesh.
“Once the race started I was fine, I didn’t feel any pressure but beforehand you do have a moment to think about how big it is."
“I obviously watched the first day and it’s the best riders in the world going at it, they all looked so fast. Then Tai crashes and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be in for the next day, even that night at the hotel he said he wanted to see how he felt in the morning before making a decision."