SHAKEDOWN COMPLETE – RED BULL KTM ARE ALL SET FOR DAKAR 2022
Dakar Rally 2022 – Preview
The three-man Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team of Matthias Walkner, Toby Price, and Kevin Benavides have successfully completed their pre-event shakedown and final administration tasks and are ready for the first stage of the 2022 Dakar Rally, which takes place tomorrow, January 1. Joining the three former race winners, KTM Factory Racing’s Danilo Petrucci will make his competitive rally debut.
Celebrating its 44th edition in 2022, this year’s Dakar Rally will be held in the Middle East for the third consecutive year and cover a grueling total distance of 8,106 kilometers. Split into 12 full stages, day one of the event, held on January 1 and named Stage 1A, will see riders face a short, 19-kilometer timed Prologue held midway between the ceremonial start of the race in Jeddah and the first bivouac in Ha’il – a route that measures 609 kilometers.
On Sunday, January 2, the first true test of the event takes place with Stage 1B – a 514km looped route that includes the first ‘proper’ timed special at 333 kilometers. As competitors make their way towards the rest day on Saturday, January 8, they will face a marathon stage held in the area close to Riyadh, where no outside assistance is permitted.
The second week of the Dakar often proves the toughest, and for 2022 it also looks to be the case. Riders head out from Riyadh on their way back to the finish line at Jeddah but first have to cover close to 4,000 kilometers and some of the most technically demanding timed specials of the event.
In what will be his eighth appearance at the Dakar, reigning FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion Matthias Walkner comes into the 2022 race looking to maintain his strong, consistent run of form. Knowing full well what it takes to claim victory at the event, the 2018 winner is aiming to arrive safely at the rest day before pushing hard in the latter half of the race to try and secure his second Dakar title.
Matthias Walkner: “The shakedown is done – I was really happy to get back on the bike here in Saudi Arabia. Now all the concentration and hard work from the last few months are really coming together as we get close to the start of our big race. I felt a little strange on the bike at first because it has been almost two weeks with no riding, but I was soon able to get comfortable and test quite a few settings. I tried to put in as many kilometers as I could in the short session, and all felt good. Soon, we’ll face the Prologue and the rest of the first stage and have a better idea of how things are. But for now, I’m just looking forward to starting the race.”
A year recovering from injury saw Toby Price off his bike for much of the 2021 season. However, now close to being fully fit, the Aussie is looking forward to taking on another Dakar challenge. Confident that the testing and development done to the new KTM 450 RALLY over the course of the year will pay off, Price is very much focused on securing his third victory at the Dakar.
Toby Price: “Yeah, the shakedown today went really well. The Red Bull KTM bike is feeling really good at the moment and I’m just super keen to get the race underway now. The event itself is looking like it’s going to be a really tough 12 days in the desert and a massive test as per usual. I need to make sure I stay consistent, try and make it to the rest day in a good position and then see what the second week brings.”
Ready to make his Dakar debut for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, 2021 champion Kevin Benavides is confident of further success at the 2022 event. Quickly settling in with the team and finding the KTM 450 RALLY very much to his liking, the Argentinian star is keen to make it two-in-a-row at the world’s toughest cross-country rally.
Kevin Benavides: “The shakedown was really good. I have been waiting a long time to get it done because after all the work we have done on the new bike, it’s really important to give it a final test in the sort of terrain we’re going to face. I enjoyed the shakedown, and the bike feels really good – I immediately had a good connection with the bike and was able to test a lot of things. The bike is definitely on-point with the suspension and the engine and everything. Now it’s time to get everything prepared, focus on the race, and start the show.”
Former MotoGP™ star Danilo Petrucci has endured a tough time in the run up to the 2022 Dakar. After injuring his ankle in a practice crash just weeks before the race, he then produced a positive Covid test after arriving in Jeddah that put his participation in doubt. Thankfully, a further blood test showed negative infection and the likeable Italian has been cleared to take part, riding his Tech3 KTM Factory Racing rally bike.
Danilo Petrucci: “After a really difficult couple of days I am finally allowed to race. I was on my bike at the shakedown when I received the message that my Covid test had come back positive. Thankfully, a blood test returned a negative result, and I was cleared to compete. I still need to take a lot of care, especially with my ankle, but I’m really looking forward to the race now. I want to say a big thank you to all the team for their help over the past week, too.”
More, from a press release issued by Monster Energy Honda Team:
Monster Energy Honda Team’s secret of success for the Dakar 2022
Monster Energy Honda Team are all set to compete in the 44th edition of the Dakar Rally. All the riders and bikes cruised successfully through today’s scrutineering and yesterday’ shakedown leaving the four riders confident of their prospects for the rally which gets underway on 1st January.
A blast from the past: in 2013 Honda returned to the world’s Motorsport toughest competition, the Dakar Rally, intent on once again dominating the race as they had previously done in the 80s. After a 23-year absence, the first years back proved troublesome, but never despairing – as Winston Churchill put it – the team learned from their failures, eventually going on to achieve success.
It did not take long for the stage wins to begin to materialise in the new Honda era, with the team soon vying for top positions, before the triumphs finally arrived. In 2020, Ricky Brabec would become the first ever American to win the Dakar, ensuring Honda’s name was once again inscribed on the winners’ list. A major triumph after eight determined seasons doggedly pursuing the goal.
“Getting to the top is difficult, but staying there is even more difficult”. Monster Energy Honda Team went into the 2021 Dakar – marked by the Covid-19 global pandemic – firmly set on improvement. And the team were to pull off the feat yet again, improving on the previous year’s results with a one-two that Honda had not achieved since that of Cyril Neveu and Edi Orioli in 1987 on the shores of Lac Rose in Senegal. This time the win went to Kevin Benavides, with Ricky Brabec claiming the runner-up spot. The Honda CRF450 RALLY riders had put their talents on display and had been consistently among the top finishers throughout the rally.
Undoubtedly, the team’s intention for this 2022 Dakar Rally edition is to achieve a hat-trick of triumphs in this, the most arduous era of the Dakar; one featuring greater competition than ever before. With this objective in mind, the team line up the following squad: Joan Barreda, Ricky Brabec, José Ignacio Cornejo and Pablo Quintanilla.
After the Dakar 2021, the team has shown very good performance in all the races in which it has participated. In addition, the last rider to join the Monster Energy Honda Team, Pablo Quintanilla, stood out by winning the Rallye du Maroc.
Saudi Arabia will be hosting this 44th edition of the Dakar Rally which gets underway on 1st January from Ha’il and is due to finish in Jeddah after covering over 8,000 kilometres of the largest country in the Middle East. The Monster Energy Honda Team – with former rider Ruben Faria as General Manager – is made up of a total of 26 members from six different countries.
The first stage
Starting in Jeddah and finishing in Ha’il, the first day of racing will feature a short 19-kilometre timed special stage, taking place between two very lengthy liaison sections for a total stage of 834 kilometres. The special stage will take place over dirt tracks featuring the occasional small dune, which will give the riders a reminder of their skills in the sand. Finishing positions for the special stage will be important, as they will allow the top finishers to be able to choose their starting positions for the following stage.
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Ricky Brabec 2
Everything has been great this year: the team is looking good, we’re working hard and we’re all excited to be here for another edition of the Dakar Rally here in Saudi Arabia. It’s a great desert, a great country to compete in. For me, obviously, the expectations are high: we want to win. The whole team wants to win… There are a lot of people here who could win. For me personally, we are trying to do things right and get to the finish in one piece and without mistakes. Obviously, strategy plays a big part, but it’s difficult when you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. We are fine, the rally starts tomorrow. We’re closing the year great and hoping for a better start to the new year with a place on the podium. Follow us! Wish us all the best.
Pablo Quintanilla 7
With one day to go until the start of the Dakar and after completing the scrutineering and the shakedown where we had the bikes tested, everything is now relaxed. I feel very good and confident about what is ahead. We’ve had a great season, where we won in Morocco and then pre-season training with the whole team in Chile that has given us a lot of motivation, a lot of desire to go out and compete in this race.
José Ignacio Cornejo 11
We passed the scrutineering and everything is all set to start the Dakar Rally 2022 tomorrow. I am happy and looking forward to starting this edition of the race. We have had a great 2021, with some good training and a lot of teamwork. Both the bike and the team are very solid and I’m happy to be here to kick off another Dakar. Tomorrow we will have the prologue, which will define the starting positions for the first stage. I’m all set to tackle my seventh Dakar.
Joan Barreda 88
We are just one day away from the start of the Dakar Rally 2022. Everything is ready and in good order to take the start. I am very happy because this year I have had a fine season, winning the Andalucía Rally and also the Baja, so we will try to stay on the right track over the opening days of the race and hopefully we will have a great rally.
The first win is the team making it to Jeddah, getting through the PCR test and being all negative. For me, this is already a triumph. We are practically the same team as last year and we have only changed two or three members of the team; we are well organised and with a clear objective in mind. The riders are also in great shape. They have had a very intense build-up to the Dakar with good results and, moreover, without any injuries. They are highly motivated.
We passed the scrutineering and everything went well. Ricky spoke about his goal at the official press conference and he was very clear: to win the Dakar. And what he said makes sense after winning and finishing runner-up in the previous two editions. Last year, Nacho was in first place with just three days to go when he fell. Now he is highly motivated and feels comfortable on this type of terrain. Joan is probably the fastest of the whole bivouac. Last year he was having a very great race but he had a mishap on the penultimate day and his chances slipped away. Even so, he is always a rider to be reckoned with. Last but not least, Pablo Quintanilla is the new rider in the team although he has already completed in two races, winning the Rallye du Maroc. I think we have four riders who will be in the battle for the overall rally win. From my point of view, this year it will be a battle to the end, because the other teams also have very strong riders.
Our goal is to win because we have already won the two previous races. But the Dakar is thirteen days of racing and a lot of things can happen. We have a great, very reliable bike. For me, it’s the best bike in the whole Dakar. Also this year, the Japanese technicians who couldn’t be here last year because of Covid issues have been able to join us and we also have a Showa suspension technician. The Dakar, however, is so unpredictable and evenly matched that only when you cross the finish line on the final day will the winner of the race be known. We only have one secret: work and work, putting the team before family and friends. It can go well or badly, but if you don’t do your best, you don’t get results.
More, from a press release issued by Husqvarna Factory Racing:
HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING FULLY PREPARED FOR DAKAR 2022
LUCIANO BENAVIDES AND SKYLER HOWES HAVE SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED ALL FINAL CHECKS AHEAD OF THE TOUGH 12-STAGE EVENT
Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Luciano Benavides and Skyler Howes are ready to take on the 2022 Dakar Rally, starting with stage 1A, tomorrow, January 1. The FR 450 Rally mounted pairing have successfully completed all shakedown tests and admin tasks and are both keen to get their race campaigns underway.
Luciano Benavides will be looking to make amends for his 2021 event where, after showing impressive speed on the Saudi dunes, he crashed out on stage nine. Taking much of the 2021 season to first recover from the injury he sustained, and then build his speed and confidence, the young Argentinian now has his sights set on securing his best ever Dakar result.
The 2022 event, and 44th edition of the Dakar, will be the first ridden by Skyler Howes in a factory team. Signing for Husqvarna Factory Racing early in 2021, the American star settled into his new surroundings extremely quickly, and that was reflected in his results, claiming multiple stage wins over the course of the season. Skyler finished the 2021 Dakar in fifth and as top privateer, and now with the added support of the factory Husqvarna team behind him, he’ll be gunning for the win.
Covering a total distance of over 8,000 kilometres and spanning two weeks of racing, the 2022 Dakar Rally looks set to be a true test of rider and machine. The 12 full stages will see riders set out from the bivouac in Ha’il, work their way around the east of the country ahead of the rest day in Riyadh on January 8, before looping around to the finish at Jeddah on Friday, January 14.
The first test for all competitors will be stage 1A – a long 609-kilometre transfer from Jeddah to Ha’il that includes a short 19-kilometre Prologue ridden against the clock. The top 15 finishers will then be able to choose their start position for the 333-kilometre timed special on stage 1B, when the true tough and technically demanding event really gets underway.
Luciano Benavides: “The first feeling on the bike ahead of Dakar is always really important and it was nice to complete a positive shakedown, the bike was really good. I felt smooth, I felt fast, and with good confidence on the bike, so I am really happy with this. The team have already been working very hard to get the bike prepared for the race, so things are looking good. For sure, there is a long way to go, and we never really know exactly what to expect, we just have to take it day by day.”
Skyler Howes: “With shakedown tests complete, I’m really happy with the bike. We were able to make some changes to the settings, so I think I have a really good set-up for the race. This is my first Dakar as a factory racer, so I’m really excited about that. Before, it was always a struggle just getting to the race, so this year I have had a lot more time to focus on my fitness and preparation. I’m definitely in a much better position. Looking ahead to the race, I’m aiming for the very best result possible – anything less than a win is simply not what we’re going for. As we know, the Dakar is a huge and unpredictable race – anything can happen. My plan is to give it my all and just have fun with it. Usually when I’m enjoying myself I deliver the best results. Hopefully at the end of the race I can put a Husqvarna on the top step of the podium.”
More, from a press release issued by GASGAS Factory Racing:
IT’S GO TIME FOR GASGAS FACTORY RACING AT THE 2022 DAKAR RALLY!
SAM SUNDERLAND AND DANIEL SANDERS CONFIDENT AND EXCITED AHEAD OF THE START OF THE WORLD’S TOUGHEST RALLY RAID
In what will be GASGAS Factory Racing’s third official participation in the Dakar Rally, it’s safe to say we’re tackling this one head on! With former race winner Sam Sunderland and young charger Daniel Sanders both excited to get the 44th edition of the world’s toughest rally raid underway, racing will finally begin tomorrow with the event’s Prologue set to determine the starting order for the first proper stage, which follows the very next day.
Sam and Daniel line up for their first Dakar with GASGAS
Dakar Rally shakedown safely completed
The 2022 Dakar begins tomorrow, January 1
With both Sam and Daniel enjoying a positive pre-race shakedown where they were able to break in their GASGAS RC 450F Rally bikes and dial in their set-ups ahead of tomorrow’s Prologue, both riders ended the session confident, comfortable, and excited for the challenge that lies ahead.
Knowing to expect the unexpected at the Dakar, the 2022 edition will mark Sam Sunderland’s ninth start at the prestigious annual event. A previous race winner in 2018, the Brit has an abundance of experience and certainly possesses the skills needed to challenge for a place on the overall podium.
Delivering a highly impressive fourth-place result at the Dakar just under one year ago, the ever-confident Daniel Sanders returns to the race following a solid season competing in the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship in 2021. With the Aussie ultimately claiming a bronze medal in the FIM series, and now armed with even more experience, he has a serious shot of success at the 2022 Dakar.
Sam and Daniel are now making their final preparations ahead of the short, 19-kilometer Prologue, which is quickly followed by six grueling stages. A mid-race rest day then follows before they take on another six demanding days of competition, each taking them one step closer to the finish line in Jeddah on January 14.
Sam Sunderland: “We’re just one day away from the Prologue and the start of the Dakar so it’s a pretty exciting time! We had a really positive shakedown a couple of days ago, so we’re all set to get things started. The Dakar always throws up some surprises, so it’ll be important to stay focused, keep looking forwards, and stay calm. For sure I’m aiming for a strong result and I think it’s certainly possible to get on the overall podium once again.”
Daniel Sanders: “The shakedown went really well and it was a good chance to run the bike in, set it up for the race, and make sure everything is spot on for the start. It was good to loosen up the body on the bike a little bit too and shake out the nerves before the serious stuff starts. I felt great on the bike, everything was perfect, and I really can’t wait to get this race underway.”