Exclusive Interview: Endurance Champion Dean Canto !



Dean Canto; One of Australia’s shining stars of V8 SuperCar Endurance, speaks candidly about life in the fast lane, career transitions, and father-hood …


In our previous interview in Edition 8, we spoke about `Cool Hand Canto’;
the cool kid who was the rising star of development series making a bold
transition into V8 SuperCars Main Game Series. In just four years of
competitive motorsport racing, Dean Canto was recognised far and wide as
the most promising young driver in Australian MotorSport. We find him now,
at the top of his game, with one or two bruises and a champion driver’s
wisdom !

” The transition from Development Series to Main Game V8’s is tougher
than anything can prepare you for”, he says ” Obviously you
always drive as fast as you can, & the cars in the development series
are only a little bit behind in their performance, but your first
qualifying session in the main series soon brings you to the realisation
that you weren’t driving hard enough in the development series.”

Dean’s career has many highlights; 2 Dev Series wins, and Top10 results in
Main Game that include a Top5 with Jim Richards at Bathurst are serious
scores, but its the qualifying lap in Bathurst in 2006 that stands out
most for him.

“I much prefer the main game” he says, ” It’s the highest
level of competition in Australia & probably the most competitive
touring car championship in the world. You see that when a European comes
out for the Enduros who is top in his class but struggles to be
competitive over here.”

Dean remains grounded though and knows success is all about the balance of
Car, Team and Driver …

” With any sport it’s not down to one person to be successful. There
is no bigger word than team, with that you also need the tools to achieve
a result & what most people on the outside don’t realise is there is a
massive difference from the front running cars to the cars in the
bottom 20. It mostly comes down to budget and development.”

” When everything is working right, it makes the drivers job a lot
easier instead of having to carry the car, which forces the driver to take
risks in order to get a result.”

” Being an endurance driver in V8’s is quite difficult as there is
not a lot of testing before the events that you can do. V8 teams are only
allowed 4 test days a year and they need to use the full time guys in
those to test components & development items, so for endurance
drivers, we really only do about 40 test laps before the first endurance
race of the year.”

” Once it comes to the racing part of the endurance events,
everything seems to fall into place and you become quite relaxed, it is
only really the qualifying that proves to be a challenge to get the most
out of the car & yourself as you don’t do it often enough.”

Those endurance skills have been put to the test a number of times, and it
was the partnership with Glen Seton in 05 that those skills helped to
bring home a 9th place finish at Bathurst!

” 05 was definitely a great year !”, he says, “and driving
with an icon such as Glenn Seton was a childhood dream.”

” We had a strong car that weekend but as Bathurst is such a long
race anything can happen. We had a small issue with the car early on which
carried throughout the race making it difficult to pass people. We had
speed in areas where there was no passing opportunities but come to the
straights we got blown away.”

” The issue we had was only a throttle position sensor but it meant
that we couldn’t use 100% throttle, we had to try and manage holding it at
around no more than 90% otherwise it would misfire. I was stuck behind a
car for quite a few laps and was quicker than him apart from the
straights, I attempted a move at Forest Elbow but he come across the front
of me bending the steering. We pitted and replaced the bent arm and
rejoined a few laps down.”

This year’s Bathurst race was an unfortunate day for most Ford teams. Most
spectacular was probably Winterbottom’s FPR team where a loose battery in
the boot caused a blaze that took out the rear end of the car.

But also for Dean’s Orrcon Ford when it hit the wall coming down the
Skyline & into the Dipper.

” It was a tough weekend for the team as the other car retired early
so we were flying the flag. It was a great disappointment for myself, not
only as it was 20 laps till the end but also because I wasn’t pushing
beyond my limit or anywhere near.”

” I had driven all race without an error, through the wet with slick
tyres on, in the wet with wet tyres on & had good pace ! So to have
the crash with the smallest of slides annoys and disappoints me. ”

” As I came over Skyline, the back of the car had a little slide and
put me offline so I decided to go straight down the Ripple Strip which I
have done in previous years in practice and continued on.”

” As I went down Skyline everything was Ok, & the car was pointed
toward the Dipper but as the front of the car came to the end of the
Strip, it hit a grate that is there for drainage and bounced the car off
to the right which sent me toward the wall, then bounced me off that wall
to the left wall. I am still frustrated with it to this day!! ”

” The car wasn’t too badly damaged, mainly just componentry but the
team have taken the opportunity to do some upgrades to the chassis while
it is being repaired.”

What most race fans may not know is that it’s common practice to rebuild a
car after major races.

But Dean has greater aspirations with wider motorsport ambitions !

” I think that what Marcos Ambrose has done for Australia is great
and hopefully people will start taking notice of the talent we have here,
but with most things its not what you know but who you know and its not as
simple as turning up somewhere and saying `Give me a drive’. If the
opportunity presented itself for me to drive overseas, NASCAR or European
Enduro, then I would definitely take it on.”

But right now, Dean has another frontier that he’s conquering. In 2007,
Dean and his lovely wife Erin, brought into the world their first-born son
Dylan !

” Having Dylan was definitely an eye opener & its amazing how
hard it is to leave him when I have to go away but the look on his face
when I come home gives you an amazing feeling. It can be difficult to
balance things & family does come first, but motorsport doesn’t wait
for anyone. Before Erin & I were married I told her that she would
always come first, but motorsport is my passion and it is going to feel
like she is second. Thankfully she is very understanding.”

And from our understanding, Mrs Canto is about to bring home another
`eye-opener’ for Dean !

“Yep! We’re pregnant again, with this one due in June !”

Congrats and we hope that one’s not an endurance event !

As well as an expanding family, Dean also has a sideline business launched
just this year !

” Yes, it’s a stunt driving school, StuntDrivingSchool.com.au
which exists in Melbourne, Sydney & we are starting up in Adelaide in

” Luke Youlden & I work together on a lot of driver training days
& prestige events & are both in the same position with our
motorsport, so we decided to join forces. We had both worked on a
Melbourne stunt day & saw how much people enjoyed it. After some talks
with the Melbourne based owner of the company, we came to be the owners of
the Sydney division which should help as he is very busy with his
Melbourne courses.”

” We are now starting to do some promotion & set up a base in
Sydney. We have just locked in Western Sydney International DragWay as a
venue where we will be using their car park area decked out with hardware
which will be manufactured in Sydney (eg Jump Ramps & the Two Wheeling
Car). The course isn’t a learning course, but more of an experience and an
adrenalin rush. I’m pretty sure not too many people have jumped a car or
done a split surface 780 degree spin.”

” Things are starting to get underway but we are aiming at this stage
at running one day a month in Sydney.”

” We also do corporate days and team building days which is a change
from what most team building activities would be like.”

Although Dean’s influence on endurance motorsport is well documented, most
fans probably don’t know about a personal mentoring role that he’s been
playing as well !

” It has to do with my condition (alopecia universalis), which makes
hair rapidly fall out (including eyebrows and lashes). I have met a lot of
parents with children who have the same condition, and as it affects less
than 1% of the population, there isn’t a lot of support out there. So
young kids get teased at school and that affects their confidence. I have
met a lot of these kids & after meeting me & talking to me their
parents have later emailed me saying that the change in their child’s life
has been amazing, they are so much more confident and happier.”

So what bright future plans are in store for Team Canto ?

” Our future plans are to conquer Bathurst ;)” he says like he
means it !

” And to hopefully expand the business into the remaining states.
Also, with the right assistance from a personal sponsor, I would
definitely be in the V8 SuperCars again.”

Whatever the future holds, we wish Dean Canto, family and business, all
the best of luck. He’s a true gentleman and a definite endurance champion

“A big thanks to all those that have supported me through-out my
career, hopefully we will see you on one of our stunt days in Sydney !

Absolutely ! <



Enquiries: erin@canto.com.au

See the original High
Definition spread and images in Edition 28 ..






Dean Canto Racing


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