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“I like the idea of being a rookie at 68!”
Graham Knight is proving the old adage that 'age is just a number' as he prepares to make his Dakar debut at 68, which makes him one of the oldest competitors at this 2020 edition. In 2017, he was part of David Watson's assistance setup as the 56-year-old completed his maiden Dakar on a bike, in one of the most gruelling editions in recent memory. Having been bitten by the Dakar bug, Graham decided he would have a crack in the world's toughest rally in an SSV, joining forces with the France-based Xtremeplus Polaris team in early 2018. David came on board as his co-driver, and the British duo have had a busy time preparing for Saudi Arabia, participating in no fewer than a dozen races over the past 18 months and taking an impressive victory at the 2018 Dubai International Baja. David has already demonstrated his resilience in the past, recovering from a serious injury at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in 2015 to complete the rally in 2016. He will now be looking to bring the same grit and determination to Dakar 2020, where Graham says the objective is "to survive" and make it through to the finish line.
GK: "I used to ride bikes, but not particularly well. I did a lot of events, but nothing at the level of Dakar. David Watson did Dakar 2017 on a bike, and I actually did service for him, so it was like a private team. We did it all ourselves. A lot of people said, 'it can't be done, you need more infrastructure'. But not only did we do it, we finished it! And in fairness the people who said we couldn't do it congratulated us afterwards, which was great. So then I got the flavour for Dakar. I thought it was one of the most amazing things I'd ever done, and that was only servicing. I didn't get much sleep for two weeks, because David was getting in quite late in the evenings. He's a legend though. He did the Dakar for the first time at 53. He did Abu Dhabi in 2015 and broke his back and both his ankles, and then a year later he raced it again and finished. He's got plates in his ankle and all sorts, but it's fantastic. At 53 he really is a legend. As I say I got the flavour for Dakar, but I wasn't good enough or young enough to consider doing it on a bike. The SSV thing was starting to raise its head, so I went out to Xtremeplus in France about 18 months ago and drove one for the first time. I've done 12 events now, and David has been my navigator at every rally. I supported him at Dakar 2017 so he's returning the favour. I've rolled it a few times, which is why my WhatsApp picture shows an SSV on its roof. I'm 68 years old, 18 months off 70. I like the idea of being a rookie at 68, I must be the oldest on the Dakar. You can fend off nature a little bit, but you'll never beat it. You don't get out of bed in the same way. I mean, I'm a grandfather, I've got a 21-year-old grandson, and another 13-year-old one, George, who's fanatical about cycling. My 10-year-old granddaughter Ella is also a very good and keen gymnast. If I can finish at my age, that would be something. Our expectations for Dakar 2020? To survive!"
XTREMEPLUS POLARIS FACTORY TEAM
- Mark : POLARIS
- Model : RZR 1000 TURBO
- Performance tuner : Xtremeplus Polaris Factory Team
- Assistance : Xtremeplus Polaris Factory Team
- Class : T3.P Prototype A-T vehicles
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