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ADV NewsMotoGP Star Danilo Petrucci Makes Radical Move To Race Dakar

MotoGP Star Danilo Petrucci Makes Radical Move To Race Dakar

The two-time MotoGP race winner will realize Dakar dream this January.

Published on 11.11.2021

Two-time MotoGP race winner Danilo Petrucci is making a radical move from the asphalt to the dunes, swapping his slicks for knobbies and his KTM RC16 for a KTM 450 Rally to take on the infamous Dakar Rally this January. The Italian rider will join the Austrian Factory Racing Team, along with Toby Price, Matthias Walkner and Kevin Benavides.

The move comes after KTM announced they were dropping Petrucci from their Tech3 MotoGP team for the 2022 season. Despite that, the 31-year-old rider continued a close relationship with the Austrian manufacturer, which has resulted in them giving him a spot in the grueling desert rally raid. “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,” said Petrucci.

His last MotoGP race will happen this week in Valencia, which means he will have only about a month and a half to prepare for his Dakar debut. Petrucci is a skilled off-road rider in enduro and motocross but knows the discipline and demands of this difficult rally will be a huge undertaking. Following the 2021 MotoGP season, his attention will be fully focused on furthering his riding and navigational education ahead of his first attempt at the 14-day and approximately 8,000-kilometer event, which begins January 1st. 


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Danilo got a taste of desert conditions aboard the KTM 450 RALLY, and the incredibly challenging navigation required for rally racing, at a recent test in the Dubai dunes under the watchful eye of KTM’s Rally Sport Manager, Jordi Viladoms — a former successful Dakar competitor. “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,” said Petrucci.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s 2018 Dakar winner and recently crowned FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion Matthias Walkner, two-time Dakar champion Toby Price, and reigning Dakar champion Kevin Benavides will be on-hand in the KTM stable to help the MotoGP star make his transition to the sport.

Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsports Director: “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’!”

Photography KTM, Alex Farinelli

Author: ADV Pulse Staff
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