2022 DAKAR SHAKEDOWN: THE WRAP

The 2022 Dakar Rally starts tomorrow. It will be televised nightly on Peacock as follows:

Date Coverage Time (ET)
Sun., Jan. 2 Stage 1 – Jeddah to Ha’il 8 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 3 Stage 2 – Ha’il to Al Artawiyah 8 p.m.
Tues., Jan. 4 Stage 3 – Al Artawiyah to Al Qaisumah 8 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 5 Stage 4 – Al Qaisumah to Riyadh 8 p.m.
Thurs., Jan. 6 Stage 5 – Riyadh to Riyadh 8 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 7 Stage 6 – Riyadh to Riyadh 8 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 8 Rest Day 8 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 9 Stage 7 – Riyadh to Al Dawadimi 8 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 10 Stage 8 – Al Dawadimi to Wadi Ad-Dawasir 7 p.m.
Tues., Jan. 11 Stage 9 – Wadi Ad-Dawasir 7 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 12 Stage 10 – Wadi Ad-Dawasir to Bisha 7 p.m.
Thurs., Jan. 13 Stage 11 – Bisha to Bisha 7 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 14 Stage 12 – Bisha to Jeddah 7:30 p.m.

The teams have been in Saudi for days now. All have done shakedown rides and photo shoots. Here are photos and official comments from the top riders from press releases:

MONSTER ENERGY HRC HONDA


Ricky Brabec: “Everything has been great this year: the team is looking good, we’re working hard and we’re all excited to be here for another edition of the Dakar Rally here in Saudi Arabia. It’s a great desert, a great country to compete in. For me, obviously, the expectations are high: we want to win. The whole team wants to win… There are a lot of people here who could win. For me personally, we are trying to do things right and get to the finish in one piece and without mistakes. Obviously, strategy plays a big part, but it’s difficult when you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. We are fine, the rally starts tomorrow. We’re closing the year great and hoping for a better start to the new year with a place on the podium. Follow us! Wish us all the best.”

Joan Barreda: “We are just one day away from the start of the Dakar Rally 2022. Everything is ready and in good order to take the start. I am very happy because this year I have had a fine season, winning the Andalucía Rally and also the Baja, so we will try to stay on the right track over the opening days of the race and hopefully we will have a great rally.”

REDBULL KTM


Matthias Walkner: “The shakedown is done – I was really happy to get back on the bike here in Saudi Arabia. Now all the concentration and hard work from the last few months are really coming together as we get close to the start of our big race. I felt a little strange on the bike at first because it has been almost two weeks with no riding, but I was soon able to get comfortable and test quite a few settings. I tried to put in as many kilometers as I could in the short session, and all felt good. Soon, we’ll face the Prologue and the rest of the first stage and have a better idea of how things are. But for now, I’m just looking forward to starting the race.”

Toby Price: “Yeah, the shakedown today went really well. The Red Bull KTM bike is feeling really good at the moment and I’m just super keen to get the race underway now. The event itself is looking like it’s going to be a really tough 12 days in the desert and a massive test as per usual. I need to make sure I stay consistent, try and make it to the rest day in a good position and then see what the second week brings.”

Kevin Benavides: “The shakedown was really good. I have been waiting a long time to get it done because after all the work we have done on the new bike, it’s really important to give it a final test in the sort of terrain we’re going to face. I enjoyed the shakedown, and the bike feels really good – I immediately had a good connection with the bike and was able to test a lot of things. The bike is definitely on-point with the suspension and the engine and everything. Now it’s time to get everything prepared, focus on the race, and start the show.”

ROCKSTAR HUSQVARNA

 

Luciano Benavides: “The first feeling on the bike ahead of Dakar is always really important and it was nice to complete a positive shakedown, the bike was really good. I felt smooth, I felt fast, and with good confidence on the bike, so I am really happy with this. The team have already been working very hard to get the bike prepared for the race, so things are looking good. For sure, there is a long way to go, and we never really know exactly what to expect, we just have to take it day by day.”

Skyler Howes: “With shakedown tests complete, I’m really happy with the bike. We were able to make some changes to the settings, so I think I have a really good set-up for the race. This is my first Dakar as a factory racer, so I’m really excited about that. Before, it was always a struggle just getting to the race, so this year I have had a lot more time to focus on my fitness and preparation. I’m definitely in a much better position. Looking ahead to the race, I’m aiming for the very best result possible – anything less than a win is simply not what we’re going for. As we know, the Dakar is a huge and unpredictable race – anything can happen. My plan is to give it my all and just have fun with it. Usually when I’m enjoying myself I deliver the best results. Hopefully at the end of the race I can put a Husqvarna on the top step of the podium.”

MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA


Adrien Van Beveren: “I’ve just completed my final training sessions ahead of the Dakar and I’m feeling really strong and ready for the race. The whole of 2021 has been great for me. Round by round in the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship I had a solid strategy of being consistent and minimising mistakes. I was able to execute my plan perfectly and end the season as vice world champion, which I was really pleased about for both myself and the team. To avoid some unnecessary pressure, I’m looking at the Dakar as just another race and a continuation of my progress throughout the last year. For sure it is a huge race that everyone in rally focuses on, but I will take it day by day, stage by stage, and apply the same mindset that took me to success in this year’s world championship.”

Ross Branch: “This year has flown by, and Dakar is now just around the corner. I’m really excited for it. A fresh start, new stages, and I think it’s going to be a really good race. During the last year the team have been working super-hard and this is really motivating as a rider to see as it just inspires me to put everything that I have into my training and preparation. My goal for the race is to finish each stage. It sounds modest but it’s such a long and wild race where anything can happen. Staying trouble free will be so important and now with my experience from racing all year in 2021, I’m in a really good place mentally ahead of the Dakar. I’ve got a great team behind me, and everything is in place for a successful race. I can’t wait to get started.”

Andrew Short: “I’m really looking forward to Dakar 2022 and it’ll actually be my fifth time racing the event. For this one I want to beat my best finish of sixth and to do that it’s super important to finish every stage safely. Each year I seem to experience some kind of problem early in the race so my focus will be on getting through week one without any major issues, then I’ll have the option to ramp things up in week two if I need to. Overall, you never really know how this race will go but I’ll be doing everything in my power to ensure the best result possible and have no regrets when the race comes to an end.”

RED BULL GASGAS


Sam Sunderland: “We’re just one day away from the Prologue and the start of the Dakar so it’s a pretty exciting time! We had a really positive shakedown a couple of days ago, so we’re all set to get things started. The Dakar always throws up some surprises, so it’ll be important to stay focused, keep looking forwards, and stay calm. For sure I’m aiming for a strong result and I think it’s certainly possible to get on the overall podium once again.”

Daniel Sanders: “The shakedown went really well and it was a good chance to run the bike in, set it up for the race, and make sure everything is spot on for the start. It was good to loosen up the body on the bike a little bit too and shake out the nerves before the serious stuff starts. I felt great on the bike, everything was perfect, and I really can’t wait to get this race underway.”

SHERCO

See you next year!

–Ron Lawson

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