Dakar – Rally-raid: who are the favorites of the Dakar motorcycle 2016 –

Rally-raid: who are the favorites of the Dakar motorcycle 2016

Dakar - Rally-raid: who are the favorites of the Dakar motorcycle 2016 -

A few days before the start of the 38th Dakar, the bikers are doing their final checks in Buenos Aires (Argentina). Saturday January 2, they will set off for 14 days of racing with different objectives: most "only" hope to complete the 9,319 km course, others dream of a place in the…

A few days before the start of, the bikers go through the final checks in Buenos Aires (Argentina). Saturday January 2, they will set off for 14 days of racing with different objectives: most of them "only" hope to succeed in completing the 9,319 km course, others dream of a place in the Top 20. The cracks, them , contend for the plate stamped with number 1, vacant since !

Who will be number 1 in 2016 ?

After Cyril Despres, reconverted in the car rally-raid with Peugeot, Marc Coma withdrew from motorcycle competition with the Dakar number 1 plate under his arm. With five victories over the "King of rallies", the Spaniard went to the other side of the barrier by choosing to don the costume of .

The status of leader is therefore to be seized in the motorcycle category, which whets the appetites of many contenders a few days before the start of this 38th edition..

Even more interesting: if KTM remains the favorite manufacturer to win with its Dakar, it will have to deal with the departure of its former leader Marc Coma and the rise of sharp rivals like Honda….

Honda ready to dethrone KTM ?

Not only does the official CRF Rally seem to have reached maturity, but it is driven by two drivers as gifted as they are experienced: Paolo Gonçalves () and Joan Barreda, winner of 13 stages in five years and in contention for victory last year before that a technical glitch does not shower its ambitions.

The two men will have as teammates at the HRC the French Mickael Metge (and retired in) and the American Ricky Brabec, for whom this is the first participation in the Dakar. If the winner of the Baja 500 in 2014 will obviously not play for the win, the young 24-year-old driver could prove to be invaluable in his role as water carrier.

KTM: many called, only one elected…

In the official KTM team, Jordi Viladoms has the perfect profile to succeed Marc Coma with his ten years of Dakar experience. At 35, the Spaniard has a nice second place in 2014 in his hunting roster, which he would have liked to transform into a victory last year before a technical problem pushed him to retire..

Not necessarily the fastest, Viladoms has excellent navigational skills on his side, which could make the difference on a difficult course announced and which overlooks Chile and Peru because of .

In Tichat, memories of the Dakar

Our collaborator Marc Troussard, ten times titled in the French rally championship, is launching a subscription for the release of "A Tichit!", His autobiographical book on his memories of the Dakar: more than 200 pages of adventures, memories, joys and suffering of his biker life.

He will have to face teammates with very long teeth, like the young (28) and fast Toby Price (3rd last year) and the world rally champion Matthias Walkner. At 29, the Austrian shines with his technique but only has one participation in the Dakar, which ended last year with a retirement due to food poisoning..

Walkner, Price and Viladoms will certainly have to fight with drivers engaged on KTM in private structures: in particular the French Olivier Pain (3rd in 2014 and 10th in 2015) and David Casteu (1st French driver to finish last year, 7th row). To this "Orange" list is also added the Slovak Stefan Svitko (surprising 5th last year despite limited resources) and Ivan Jakes. 

Many eyes will also be on the official KTM n ° 49, that of the Frenchman Antoine Meo, who joined the rally-raid at the age of 31 after five titles in Enduro (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015)..

Comfortable in the technical and brittle thanks to his endurance past, Méo still has a lot to learn about the specificities of rallying. But his victory of a stage in Merzouga (Morocco) shows that the potential is there.

Another official Katoche representative to watch carefully: Laia Sanz, who moved from Honda to the 450 KTM this year. The multiple Spanish trial champion is probably not the fastest, but her unwavering determination and technical finesse allowed her to reach the finish in 9th place in 2015, when many of her Honda teammates had broken. where were they at fault !

Yamaha: focus on consistency

On the Yamaha side, Helder Rodrigues will be the official team leader on the WR450F Rally, which has been seriously revamped for the win during the offseason. On his handlebars, the n ° 7 and his teammate Alessandro Botturi offered themselves a nice double in Tunisia, followed by a third place in Sardinia (Italy) for the experienced Rodrigues (ten participations in the Dakar).

The high point of preparation for the Dakar for Yamaha: the Merzouga rally (Morocco) won by Botturi, author of his victory in the rally-raid. The two official riders will team up with the French Xavier de Soultrait, integrated into the Junior Team Yamaha thanks to his beautiful 13th place final signed last year from his second participation. 

His teammate will be Adrien Van Beveren, double winner of the Enduropale du Touquet, which goes from sand races to the Dakar dunes at the age of 24. Seventh in Morocco, Van Beveren showed great things on the Yamaha handlebars, like his compatriot Pierre-Alexandre Renet (31), who went from enduro to rally-raid like Antoine Méo.

Let’s not forget also the very consistent Ruben Faria (38), sixth last year despite a broken shoulder. Very good at navigation, the official Husqvarna riders moreover a motorcycle very close to the factory KTMs (Husqvarna belongs to KTM), which places him among the favorites..

His Chilean teammate Pablo Quintanilla (4th in 2015) is capable of bursts which must be taken into account. Finally, the veteran Alain Duclos (44 years old) can also surprise with his official Sherco (the only French motorcycle entered, let us remember!), At least on certain stages.

With 13 Dakar to his credit, the Frenchman has experience and determination on his side. He will team up with the Spanish Joan Pedrero and the French Florent Vayssade. 

Program and route of the Dakar 2016 

  • 12/31 and 01/01: Administrative and technical checks
  • 02/01: Podium in Buenos Aires
  • 03/01: Buenos Aires – Villa Carlos Paz
  • 04/01: Villa Carlos Paz – Termas de Rio Hondo
  • 05/01: Termas de Rio Hondo – Jujuy
  • 06/01: Jujuy – Jujuy
  • 07/01: Jujuy – Uyuni
  • 08/01: Uyuni – Uyuni
  • 09/01: Uyuni – Salta
  • 01/10: Rest day in Salta
  • 11/01: Salta – Belen
  • 01/12: Belen – Belen
  • 01/13: Belen – La Rioja
  • 01/14: La Rioja – San Juan
  • 01/15: San Juan – Villa Carlos Paz
  • 01/16: Villa Carlos Paz – Rosario

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