Seventeen-year-old Dean Dillon from Moria received the call he had been waiting for from quad team Ireland manager Gordon Gilchrist last week.
It confirmed Dillon will join Mark McLernon and Justin Reid in the Nations team to represent Ireland in Germany.
“After watching the team over the past two years I always said that I would love to be a part of it some day,” said Dillon.
“When I was running closer to the front I thought I was in with a chance but the wait for the telephone call from Gordie was unbearable. When the phone rang it was an anxious wait before he said the words, yes you are on the team. All the years of hard work had paid off and to be on a team with Mark and Justin, I don’t think in this country you could ask to be on a team with anyone better.”
The team finished third in 2017 then second last year so could they make the top step this time around?
“It is a crazy race and who knows,” he said. “In last year’s event team Ireland were finishing fifth overall until on the last lap of the last race, that’s when the three teams ahead of them all had mechanical issues and that put Ireland straight into second overall.
“The results last year weren’t amazing but they were consistent and that’s what you need to do. With Mark, Justin and Gordie as the manager, having been so many times before, they know what it takes to get a good overall result and as for me I’ll give it everything I have.”
It has been remarkable rise to the top for the young rider who started racing at the age of eight.
“My dad’s friend got me into racing on a LT50 but I wasn’t very good and didn’t take to it straight away,” explained Dillon.
“In fact it wasn’t until I got into the 110cc class when I was twelve that it sort of clicked and I won my first Ulster Championship. From then I’ve never looked back and kept moving up classes and winning championships.”
He won three Ulster championships in a row taking the 200 two-stroke before moving onto a 250 Raptor winning both the Ulster and Irish titles in 2016. In the same year he also won the British 250cc Championship. In 2017 he rode the 250 in the clubman class, with the title going down to the last round.
“In the end we both had the same points but he got the championship as he had won more races,” saidDillon, who moved up to the 450cc premier class in 2018.
“A lot of people said that I was too young for the move but I felt it was what I needed to do and my coach Emma McQuaid reckoned I was ready for it. At the first round at Desertmartin I finished second behind Michael McAneney in the pouring rain. I’ll never forget it.
“After people saying I was too young and should spend another year in the 250s, to finish second was unbelievable. It was a big, big learning curve to step from juniors and although I struggled at times in 2018 I have certainly got faster in 2019 and have matured a lot in my racing.”
Dean has already met a couple of the American team members that he will race against in Germany, when training with the American National champion Chad Wienen earlier this year.
He said: “It was unbelievable and had to be the best experience of my career to be riding with someone of that caliper and him to be such a genuine guy who was so easy to get on with. On the first day we went to a track called Spider MX and pulled in behind runner up in the National championship Joel Hetrick.
“To go into the track and ride with the two fastest quad riders in the world was simply class. I have now got a glimpse of what it is going to feel like at the Nations with both of them going to be there.
“I knew I wasn’t going to go to America and come home three seconds a lap faster but they showed me what to do to get faster.”