Digital Edition Subscribers: Read Roadracing World Magazine Now >
Roadracing World.com - An Online Service of Roadracing World Magazine
SHARE:
Mar 1, 2018

​American Teen Rocco Landers Preparing To Chase RFME CEV 85GP Title, World Championship Career In Spain

Rocco Landers (96) in action in Spain. Photo courtesy of Stoney Landers.

American Rocco Landers, a 13-year-old from Oregon, is preparing to chase the 2018 RFME (Real Federacion Motociclista Espanola) CEV (Campeonato de Espana Velocidad) 85GP National Championship and continue on a path that he hopes will one day lead him to the MotoGP World Championship.

After road racing on mini-bikes both in the U.S. and Europe for the last several seasons, Landers, with the help of his father, former racer Stoney Landers, went to Spain to compete in the highly competitive RFME CEV 85GP series for the first time in 2017.

“We had a best race finish of fourth and placed fifth in the Championship,” said Rocco Landers in a telephone interview. “We missed out on fourth by, I believe, five or six points, but we had to work through some challenges last year, like several malfunctions and several problems. Overall, we had a good season, a lot of fun.”

Some of those struggles came from dialing in Landers’ Yamaha YZ85-powered BeOn racebike. Another struggle was simply dealing with the high level of competition in the series, according to Stoney Landers, but that’s the main reason they chose to go racing in Europe rather than in the U.S.

“The competition is so high over [in Europe] and it’s a big feat to do well in those races,” said Stoney Landers. “In our classes, there’s over 100 kids who race each weekend. That’s invaluable to have that kind of competition at Rocco’s age. And those kids are the ones who move on to the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup and Moto3 and Moto2 and MotoGP. So in order to be the best and be in that talent pool you have to be able to race against those guys. We felt like we would not be prepared as well if we stayed here to race.”

“My short-term goal is to win this 2018 [RFME CEV 85GP] Championship,” said Rocco Landers, “and then tryout for and make the 2019 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup program, race in that for a couple of years and possible race in the European Talent Cup at the same time. When I’m a little bit older, I want to race in the Moto3 Junior World Championship for a couple of years and then move up to the Moto3 World Championship.”

Many riders who compete in the feeder racing series in Europe have to pay relatively large sums of money (or find personal sponsors to pay money) to ride with established teams. Rocco Landers, however, is going a less expensive route and riding as a privateer with help from his father and some Europe-based crew members. But even doing things this way is expensive compared to club racing in the U.S.

Fortunately, Landers has been able to gather some sponsorship, including the support and endorsement of author, riding instructor, and California Superbike School founder Keith Code.

“I know right now that Rocco has a good grip on the basics of riding a motorcycle,” Code told Roadracingworld.com when asked what led him to support Rocco Landers. “That came pretty easy because his dad Stoney was one of my top coaches for six or seven years. So that gives me a lot of confidence that he has a good handle on that stuff. That’s a big hurdle right there.

“The successful past American Champions had a certain combination of support. One of those elements is family support, and Rocco has got that in spades. So that’s another piece of the essential puzzle that he has in place.

“Then his attitude is good and he’s willing to experiment, not just go out there and do lap after lap after lap. Some people use track time like toilet paper. If there’s a whole roll there people pull off about 10 sheets. If you go in and there’s only two sheets you figure out how to make it work. A lot of guys like myself came from an era when club races were on Sunday. That was it. There were no track days. So you really had to figure out how to make two 15-minute practices work for you. Every corner was valuable, and Rocco really makes the most of all the track time he gets.

“Also, Rocco is easy to get along with, and he’s got some charisma. He kind of reminds me of [past World Champion] Wayne Rainey, who I started working with when he was 17. Wayne got along with everybody.”

Even with the sponsorship he has already been able to raise, Rocco Landers is still lacking the budget to contest the full 2018 season. As a result, Stoney Landers has established a website where enthusiasts can help support his son’s racing effort by purchasing Rocco Landers merchandise or by giving direct monetary donations. To learn more about Rocco and watch a video produced by some of his supporters, go to www.RoccoLanders.com.

Fans can also connect with and follow Rocco Landers via his Facebook page, Rocco Landers Racing, and on Instagram, Rocco Landers.

Rocco Landers’ current sponsors include: Keith Code’s California Superbike School, Powered by JG, Alpha Structural, C Dream leathers, Bell helmets, and BeOn Automotive.

Top 5 This Week