Miguel Caetano will be fulfilling a lifelong dream when he lines up at his maiden Dakar on 6 January, just five days before his 45th birthday. The Portuguese restaurant owner has been passionate about motorsport since childhood, and always planned to one day participate in the world's toughest rally. This year, the wait is finally over -and to really make it a debut to remember, he will be riding without assistance in the grueling Original by Motul class. A self-confessed amateur, Miguel admits that he is probably the outsider among the 18 Portuguese riders heading to this year's rally. In the past he accompanied his great friend Bernardo Vilar to the Dakar in Africa, and having put off his own participation for many years he decided, in late 2017, to finally take the plunge. Though he has not taken part in many races, Miguel has spent months training himself up both physically and mentally, and is now determined to make it through to the finish line in Lima -a perfect late birthday present.
“It's a dream come true. I remember watching the Dakar on television when I was younger and hoping that one day I would be able to participate in it. I've been riding motorcycles since I was 12 years old, and going offroad since about the age of 20. I think I was always preparing to do the Dakar one day. Lots of people have crazy interests, and this has always been mine! My objectives are: not getting hurt, trying to have fun and reaching the end. My decision to ride in the Original by Motul class is linked to the original spirit of the Dakar. Competitors left France and crossed half of Africa with very limited means, by themselves. Essentially, I'll be going it alone -I'm only allowed help from other riders in my class. I won't have a mechanic, just support from KTM Portugal to get access to the material I need. All we really have is our dreams, and my big dream has always been to race the Dakar on a motorbike. Life goes by very quickly, so I felt this was the right moment to do it, otherwise it would have stayed a dream for the rest of my life."
Several days before his 45th birthday, Miguel Caetano is savouring the wait for the big day by striding through the Las Palmas air base. “It’s my lifelong dream,” admits the Portuguese rider as he collects the last of his navigation instruments. From one scrutineering stand to another, the Portuguese biker is drinking in the delight of experiencing his first...
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