Transitioning from road racing to off-road racing (and vice versa) is nothing new in motorsports. The most recent racer to make such a move will be KTM MotoGP star, Danilo Petrucci, as he swaps his RC16 race bike for a KTM 450 Rally bike tuned for the Dakar Rally.
“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 videotapes of the Dakar Rally from the 80s and 90s. Now, thanks to KTM, this dream is coming true,” says Petrucci.
Petrucci, who has accumulated 10 podium finishes and two wins in his 10 seasons on the MotoGP grid, will fulfill a lifelong 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 that has previously won an outstanding 18 successive Dakar victories, Danilo 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, 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.
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 8,000-kilometer event, which begins on January 1st.
The 2022 edition of the competition will take place in the Middle East for the third year in a row and will allow Petrucci to be thrown into the depths of Dakar to learn and develop with an eye on the 2022 FIM competition and a potential future in the sport.