To read Part 1 of Dan's Year in Review blog, click here.
I was teammates in 2014 with Jimmy Storror, Simon Andrews (RIP), Michael Dunlop, Steve Mercer and Steve Thompson, and was supposed to share a garage at the Macau Grand Prix with Jeremy Toye, winner of the 2014 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, but his race bike got stuck at US customs and his Macau race ended before it even started.
I did Isle of Man TT in-car laps with Moto3 star Danny Webb, British Superbike (BSB) star Josh Brookes, and have become great friends with the fastest newcomer ever at the TT, BSB winner and all-round super fast guy Peter Hickman.
I had tea with TT legend John McGuinnes, drinks with Lee Johnston, and a really cool lunch with long-time world endurance racer and TT rider Horst Saiger. I sat next to Kevin Schwantz at the Suzuka 8 Hours riders briefing and had informal chats throughout that event with World Superbike star Jonathan Rea and many other WSBK and Japan Superbike (JSB) regulars. Informal greetings to MotoGP stars Hayden, Marquez, Stoner and more.
Enough name-dropping; you get the point. It was very cool to go through the entire season being more or less… star struck!
Kruger with MotoGP champion Marc Marquez and MotoGP standout Andrea Iannone.
Losing Simon was the one thing that really stands out about my 2014 season, since it has forever change the way I look at road racing. It has reminded me that what we do can be over in a split second. My injury at Suzuka has also reminded me that I am not 20 years old anymore and injuries take a long time to heal up. On a more positive note, I would say the highlights of 2014 were racing for BMW, as they are a world class team and without question the most professional team I have ever raced for.
Another highlight would be the Macau GP as I made the show, didn’t crash, didn’t finish last and managed a top 20. It is an awesome circuit, and it's one I am really looking forward to again in 2015. I really wanted to win the China Superbike Championship, but I came up short by about 10 points. There is no question that I took on too much for one season with so many new race tracks to learn, three brands of bikes, two brands of tires, and three types of racing (circuit, endurance, and road racing). Also, the high-profile nature of most of the events put additional pressure on me.
I met so many nice people and wish every motorcycle enthusiast at some point in time can attend a road race. If you are there as a spectator, you will quickly find the friendly environment is like nothing you have ever seen at a regular racetrack. Everyone is friendly and like family. The racers hang out at dinners, party, or in one of the riders' RVs. They are the nicest people I have ever met. If you attend a road race to compete, you might as well cancel your remaining circuit races as you will never be the same after competing in one road race. It is a game changer and it is really hard to put into words; just give it a try one day.
2015 is looking to be another great year. I will be announcing my schedule and teams in the next week or so, but expect to see me back on the roads, at Macau, in the China Superbike Championship and maybe 1-2 events thrown in for good measure.
Kruger with US MotoGP star Nicky Hayden and former MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner.
I hope my blogs have been of interest to everyone. I realize that this one is a little more of a summary of my year, but isn’t December the right month to look back and reflect?
I want to thank all my supporters, sponsors, family and friends for helping make this happen. The goal for 2015 is to stay safe, keep healthy, and go fast. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with Simon Andrews' family and to everyone else that lost a loved one, as the sport can be cruel at times.
Happy new year to everyone. Follow me on facebook at www.facebook.com/dankrugerracingteam.
All the best!