Motorbikes-Quads: the market never sleeps
November 3 rd 2021 - 18:26
153 motorbikes and 22 quads are expected to travel to Saudi Arabia for the start in Ha'il on 1 January. Five former winners on two wheels are entering the race, including the Argentinean title holder, Kevin Benavides, who has traded his traditional number 47 and the Honda on which he won the event for number 1 and a KTM.
The season has seen many transfers between the main teams in contention for the places of honour in the Dakar. Honda, for instance, signed Chile's Pablo Quintanilla.
People often look for the big favourites near the top of the start lists. Kevin Benavides broke with tradition by claiming victory with his lucky number, 47, which he had already sported in his debut in 2016, when he came in fourth. However, the Argentinean has abandoned it this time round in order to be able to flaunt number 1 on his motorbike and vest. The fact that it seems to have been cursed for several years (no-one has mounted a successful title defence since Marc Coma in 2015) does not seem to bother Benavides. The rider from Salta made the decision to join KTM after netting Honda its second triumph in the 21st century. In other transactions, the transfer merry-go-round also led to Daniel Sanders (#4) leaving the Austrian maker for its cousin Gas Gas, Franco Caimi (#6) signing for Hero after bidding farewell to Yamaha, which managed to keep Adrien Van Beveren (#42), and recent Rallye du Maroc winner Pablo Quintanilla (#7) moving to Honda, which also retained the services of fellow Chilean "Nacho" Cornejo (#11), as well as Ricky Brabec (#2) and Joan Barreda (#88).
In the quad category, Manuel Andújar will be racing on machine #170 after extending the South American hegemony last year. The Argentinean will face stiff competition from Chile's Enrico Giovanni (#171), as well as other contenders eager to end the Latin American dominance, including Frenchmen Alexandre Giroud (#174) and Axel Dutrie (#177) and Pole Kamil Wiśniewski (#175).