N°426 Lightweight vehicle XTREMEPLUS POLARIS FACTORY TEAM

GRAHAM KNIGHT

(gbr) 1.68m / 82kg

Hobbies

Rally raid, enduro bikes, walking, tennis, golf, reading

Sponsors

Hicks Watson Employment Law, Pyga Mountain Bikes, Environ, S&N Pickford Travel Agents, David Watson Motorcycle Importers, SYNERVA CBD OILS, ICONIK DEVELOPMENTS

2020: Ab. Stage 4

2019: Morocco Desert Challenge (26th), Hellas Rally (12th), Silk Way Rally (4th), Rallye du Maroc (7th)
2018: Dubai International Baja (1st), Merzouga Rally (17th)
Bajas in Dubai, Spain, Italy, Portugal

Interview

“I had to come back”

Graham Knight was hoping to tick a major item off his bucket list by completing the Dakar last year, but it wasn't to be; he and co-driver David Watson were forced to abandon the SSVs on Stage 4 due to engine failure. It hasn't been an easy 2020 for the British pair, with the global pandemic preventing them from racing or testing in the desert, and Graham actually contracting Covid-19 in the build-up to the Dakar. Now that he's back on his feet, Graham is determined to put the bitter disappointment of last year behind him and get the better of the world's toughest rally. He and David will be driving a brand-new Polaris built by the France-based Xtremeplus factory team, with whom they raced throughout 2018 and 2019. Age is just a number for this hardy duo; David made his Dakar debut as a 53-year-old in 2017, going all the way in the bikes, while Graham -who was bitten by the Dakar bug when he provided service for David in South America- decided to get behind the wheel in Saudi Arabia at a sprightly 68. You couldn't accuse the Manchester native of taking himself too seriously -after all, his WhatsApp profile picture is an upturned SSV- but he and David are certainly serious about making it to the finish line of Dakar 2021, in what is likely to be Graham's final outing on the rally.

GK: “The year's been sh**! It's been a crazy year, and strangely enough I'm now recovering from Covid, just coming through the other side. It got to the point where I couldn't walk up the stairs, even if it didn't last many days. It just kicks the hell out of you. I didn't have any energy, so now I need to starting building strength up again before Saudi Arabia. Although the pandemic hasn't singled us out, I imagine everyone's preparation has been upset. We've got a brand-new Polaris for Dakar 2021, a new model, totally different to last year. Xtremeplus have built five new cars for the rally. I've driven it once on a test track and it's just amazing, chalk and cheese with the old one. It's really very, very stable compared to last year's model. I would have liked to have more practice, especially in the sand -but there's not much sand in the UK! That's the downside really, we have no idea what it performs like in the dunes. Last year we blew an engine in the middle of the desert on day 4, so we couldn't finish. I've never felt so emotionally down in my life. I didn't think I'd do Dakar again, I thought that was it, I was going to tick the box and move on. But with not finishing, I had to come back. I'll be 70 in May next year, so I think this will be my last attempt.”

Vehicle

XTREMEPLUS POLARIS FACTORY TEAM

  • Mark : POLARIS
  • Model : RZR PRO XP
  • Performance tuner : Xtremeplus Polaris Factory Team
  • Assistance : Xtremeplus Polaris Factory Team
  • Class : T4.1 Turbo production SSVs

Ranking 2021

Scratch Stage General
0 50 50 50
1 45 45 45
2 52 52 45
3 52 52 46
4 52 52 46
5 51 50 46
6 47 47 43
7 44 44 41
8 45 45 40
9 41 41 39
10 49 49 39
11 47 47 38
12 47 47 38

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