The Dakar Rally is the most prestigious off-road rally in the world, attracting hundreds of competitors and factory teams from 6 continents since its inception almost 50 years ago.
Unfortunately throughout the race’s existence, a Filipino rider has yet to compete in this grueling 2-week rally race. Well, that might change soon as KTM PH’s boss revealed to MotoPinas.com that it is their dream to send the first Pinoy rider that will compete in the Dakar Rally.
Dreams do come true
MotoPinas.com had the pleasure of speaking with Dino Santos, current president and COO of KTM Asia Motorcycle Manufacturing Inc., (KAMMI) aka KTM Philippines, shortly before they took the wraps off their new Husqvarna Norden 901 adventure bike at the Makina Moto Show 2023.
Santos, who is an avid motorcycle enthusiast himself, revealed that it is KTM Philippines’ dream to one day send the first Filipino rider to compete in the Dakar Rally.
“Like the creation of KTM [factory] in the country, it began as a dream,” says Santos to MotoPinas.com. “Now, our dream is to send a Pinoy rider to Dakar,” added Santos with great enthusiasm on his face.
Since its creation, KAMMI’s manufacturing plant in Santa Rosa, Laguna, has produced more than 30,000 units of KTM motorcycles for the local market and international export.
Dakar is not cheap
A few years ago, our country was graced by international enduro rider and motorcycle riding coach, Chris Birch. According to Birch, when he competed as a privateer in Dakar Rally some years back, he had to raise at least USD 100,000 (almost PHP 6-M) just to compete, and this amount is considered modest since he had to do all the bike preparation, maintenance (no crew) and “had to sleep in tents” during race week.
Factory-sponsored riders, on the other hand, had a comfortable RV to sleep in, teams of support crew with complete spare motorcycles and parts. He estimates that these factory teams spend at least a million dollars during the competition.
KTM makes Dakar bikes
KTM dominated the Dakar Rally for 18 straight years until Ricky Brabec of Honda won the 2020 edition.
KTM took the title back in 2022 (through GASGAS) and this year, Kevin Benavides rode his 450 Rally to victory for KTM. Because of this dominance in the Dakar Rally, KTM has produced 450 Rally Replicas that are ready to race in The Dakar.
Races like Enduro Factory/FJ Moto Enduro’s 1st Asia Pacific Enduro Championship in Tagaytay and the Sen. Bato Enduro Championship in Davao revealed that we have an abundance of off-road riding talent here in the country and with KTM’s technical expertise and resources, it is not a far-fetched reality that someday the Philippine flag will be flying high in the Dakar Rally. We’re excited and at the same time hoping that a Filipino will be racing in Dakar Rally soon, very very soon.