Zhao Hongyi learned just how tough the Dakar can be in his maiden participation two years ago, as he bowed out of the rally on the very first stage. Undeterred, the Chinese rider returned in 2018 and successfully made it to the finish line in Cordoba, achieving 74th place for the Daming Racing Team. The host of a TV show dedicated to motorsport, the 38-year-old is one of China's brightest talents on the rally raid scene. He enjoyed an impressive showing at this year's Taklimakan Rally, even completing a clean sweep of the podium with teammates Armand Monleon and Zhang Min. Hongyi returns in 2019 with a new challenge, and a gruelling one at that: he will be aiming to complete the rally without any assistance in the “Original by Motul” class.
“Finishing last year was a really memorable experience. The Dakar is the world's biggest offroad race, and I'm lucky to have the opportunity to take part in it. To prepare for 2019 I've been keeping in shape with CrossFit, and I also raced the Taklimakan Rally, securing a top-three finish. We had a really good time in China, working as a dream team and fighting together to achieve good results. Of course, the 1-2-3 has boosted our confidence for Dakar. We know each other really well and we've created a real sense of togetherness within the team. I already finished one Dakar, so I'm going one step further this year: I want to reach the finish line in the 'Original' malle moto class."
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