Both MotoGP and the Dakar Rally showcase the talents of some of the world’s most talented riders every year. While plenty of MotoGP racers train on all kinds of two-wheeled machines while they’re off the track—including plenty of off-roading—both types of riding emphasize different types of skills. So, it’s not often that we see MotoGP racers make the leap to Dakar.
That’s exactly what Danilo Petrucci is doing with KTM for Dakar 2022, though. Instead of a KTM RC16, he’ll be mounting up on a Tech3 KTM Factory Racing 450 Rally to start the new year off right in January. While he has plenty of enduro and motocross riding experience under his belt, Dakar is an experience unto itself.
So far, KTM Rally Sport manager Jordi Viladoms has been helping Petrucci get to grips with navigation. In fact, as soon as the 2021 MotoGP season wraps, Petrux will only have to worry about training for one racing discipline. Honing both riding and navigation for the 14-day, 8,000-ish kilometer (around 4,971 mile) event is certainly a lot for anyone to wrap their head around, we’d bet.
“For me it is really a dream come true to race the Dakar. It’s an event I’ve always wanted to do since I was a child when I was watching video tapes of the Dakar Rally from the 80s and 90s. Now, thanks to KTM, this dream is coming true,” Petrucci said in a statement.
“First, I would like to thank KTM for this great opportunity; I think I will be the only rider that in just over one month has competed in MotoGP and then the Dakar Rally – so it is with great pride that I go there. My main target is just to finish the race and enjoy it,” he continued.
“The first approach was to have some road book training with Jordi, he competed in the race many times and finished on the podium, so he has been great in helping me learn this special art. I had my first taste of riding the KTM 450 RALLY recently at an initial test in the Dubai dunes, where I was with KTM’s Dakar champions and I was able to learn so much from them – it was great to see them riding, and they were super nice and helpful to me. I hope the training for the next month will be enough; for sure it will be a tough race, but I am excited,” Petrucci concluded.
“Danilo’s talent and his character means he is one of the few elite level guys that we believe can make this radical move from the asphalt to the dunes. It’s a great story for a great guy. We want to thank him for his professionalism and all his efforts as part of the Tech3 team in our MotoGP project and now it’s time for another world,” added KTM Motorsports director Pit Beirer.