KIWI RIDER NOVEMBER 2021 VOL2 - Page 14

DIRT NEWS

PETRUCCI SWAPS MOTOGP FOR DAKAR

The speed is still high , the adrenaline still pumping – even protection like airbags remain in place – but 31-year-old Italian Danilo Petrucci will be exchanging his MotoGP visor for goggles , and knee sliders for knee braces when he converts to a rally bike in Tech3 KTM Factory Racing colours for 2022 . Petrucci , who has accumulated 10 podium finishes and two wins in his 10 seasons on the MotoGP grid , will fulfil a lifetime dream with the transition into the next stage of his elite racing career after the season-closing Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana . ‘ Petrux ’ is a skilled offroad rider in enduro and motocross , but knows the discipline and demands of rally will be a big challenge . Learning from some of the most successful racers in the sport , and experts from the KTM squad , which has previously won 18 successive Dakar victories , Petrucci has begun his rally preparation as he embarks on the challenge of a switch from MotoGP to the Dakar . Red Bull KTM Factory Racing ’ s 2018 Dakar winner and recently crowned FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion Matthias Walkner , twotime Dakar champion Toby Price , and reigning Dakar champion Kevin Benavides will be onhand in the KTM stable to help the MotoGP racer make his transition to the challenges of rally raiding . Danilo has had a taste of desert conditions aboard his KTM 450 Rally and the incredibly challenging navigation required for rally racing at a recent test under the watchful eye of KTM ’ s Rally Sport Manager , Jordi Viladoms - a former successful Dakar competitor . Following the MotoGP season , Danilo ’ s attention will be fully focused on furthering his riding and navigational education ahead of his first attempt at the 14-day and approximately 8000km event , which begins on January 1 , 2022 . “ For me , it is really a dream come true to race the Dakar ”, says Petrucci . “ It ’ s an event I ’ ve always wanted to do since I was a child when I was watching videotapes of the Dakar Rally from the 80s and 90s . Now , thanks to KTM , this dream is coming true . 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 . “ The first approach was to have some

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