March, march, Dąbrowski!

Dakar 2021 | Stage 11 | AlUla > Yanbu
January 14 th 2021 - 08:04 [GMT + 3]

Konrad Dąbrowski has been riding for as long as he can remember —so long, in fact, that he sees his motorbike almost as an extension of his body. Although he boasts the track record of a seasoned veteran, the 19-year-old Pole is poised to become the youngest biker to finish the Dakar tomorrow evening. Konrad has little time for such trivia as he savours his first experience in the Dakar, a rally he has come to know intimately thanks to the tips received from his father Marek and his brother in arms, Jacek Czachor, without having ever visited the race before: "It goes far beyond my expectations. Every day, when I see my results, I feel surprised and privileged to see the names of the bikers around me", he explains at the bivouac in Al-ʿUla, sitting an impressive 30th overall. "At the beginning, I was blown away by the sheer speed and I wondered whether I'd be able to keep up the pace. But now I feel better with every passing day. I think my eyes have got used to this rhythm."

While the young lad's performance may be a bit surprising, he certainly did not come out of nowhere. A quick perusal of his record shows that he already finished the Rally of Morocco in 2019 and the Africa Race in January 2020. "That's when we came to the conclusion I was ready for the Dakar, and I'm happy I took up the challenge", he says. "But now I'm even more nervous than at the beginning because I don't want to mess up. I've spent so many hours on the saddle, I have no intention of taking risks in the last two stages. No matter how high I finish, it'll still be a personal best!" However, it is Marek who is really going on a white-knuckle ride as the rally nears its end. Even with 12 Dakar starts on a motorbike (including a ninth-place finish in 2003) and 3 in a car with Czachor, Dąbrowski Sr. still breathes a huge sigh of relief when his son reaches the bivouac in the evening: "I always tell him to slow down, but he wants to have fun too. I didn't expect him to be at this level so soon. Of course, he's so good because he's so smart. But I see just how great he is at navigating, at riding fast and slow, and I don't think many people would be able to do this well in their first outing. He's far better than I was when I got started." Do the facts portend a triumphant future for the Warsaw Wizard? Marek knows his son far too well to set limits to his potential: "I'd be happier if he switched to cars, it would do wonders for my blood pressure! But I know he has what it takes to become a top rider and, why not, win the Dakar some day. However, he needs to take it one step at a time."

Marek Dabrowski avait été au début des années 2000 l’un des pionniers polonais sur le Dakar à moto. C’est maintenant son fils Konrad qi prend la relève et participe pour la première fois à l’épreuve. Ça promet.

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