Cesare: veni, vidi, vici

Dakar 2024 | Stage 6 | SHUBAYTAH > SHUBAYTAH
January 11 th 2024 - 12:38 [GMT + 3]

There are six bikers at the bivouac behind the handlebars of a Kove, a bike made in China which made its appearance on the Dakar last year ridden by three Chinese bikers who all made it to the finish on the shores of the Red Sea. Four official riders are taking part this year in the Rally 2 class for the brand, Mason Klein is participating in the Rally GP class and Cesare Zachetti with number 49 is among the hardy souls tackling the Original by Motul unassisted bikers’ category. Cesare has come and seen, but what will he conquer?

49 ZACCHETTI Cesare (ita), Kove Italia, Kove, Moto, Originals by Motul, during the Administrative and technical scrutineering of the Dakar 2024 from January 3 to 4, 2024 in Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia
49 ZACCHETTI Cesare (ita), Kove Italia, Kove, Moto, Originals by Motul, during the Administrative and technical scrutineering of the Dakar 2024 from January 3 to 4, 2024 in Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia © A.S.O./Florent Gooden/DPPI

At the age of 54 years, this is Cesare Zachetti’s sixth Dakar. Following a premature exit in 2015, he has finished all the editions in Saudi Arabia. Since 2022, he has been riding in the Original by Motul category, for bikers who experience the Dakar without assistance in the evening at the bivouac and have no margin for error. With a 15th place and then 11th last year in this category, for this edition the native of Turin wanted to try something new, behind the handlebars of a Kove. “I’m 54 years old and with every year that passes, it gets harder to achieve a good result. I’ve come here to travel, to taste the atmosphere and to enjoy the Dakar experience every day. The Kove is a new bike that has just been launched in Europe. Everybody here has a KTM, which is good when they need to find parts and help each other. However, taking part with a Kove is an extra challenge. I’m not looking to make things more difficult than they are, but I like doing things differently”.

For most of his peers, it is a preposterous idea, almost a mystery, an eccentric and even masochistic challenge. You have to wonder whether Zachetti, in his red jacket, is not a special envoy on a secret mission to promote the brand! “The people here are curious because this bike costs half as much as a KTM and so they think it isn’t going to work well. This summer, I met with the Kove importer in Italy and that’s where this story took its root. He asked me if I was ready to tackle the Dakar with this bike. I thought it could be a nice challenge. I took part in the Sardinia Rally and didn’t have the slightest problem for five days! The challenge is to see whether I can reach Yanbu. I don’t know what will happen. For the last five days, I haven’t had any problems, I’m riding carefully and I’ve not had a fall. When I finish in the evening, I don’t need to do anything more than normal: clean the air filter, change the oil and that’s it. I’d like to underline that I don’t work for Kove and am not under contract. Kove’s history only began six years ago and this bike only exists because the brand owner is a Dakar enthusiast”.

Cesare, shaved, bike washed, looking like a true gentleman biker, is a pioneer. He knows that he is paving the way for other privateers like him in their quest for a more financially accessible Dakar, particularly for young competitors. “I think that when the Chinese manufacturers decide to enter our market, they are going to be very strong. Last year, we were looking at it and thinking that it wasn't going to go all the way, myself included. They had problems, but they reacted very quickly, testing throughout the year in Mexico, Argentina and on the Baja Aragon, obtaining decent results. They are developing very fast, it seems strange, but in China they are progressing at a different speed. At the moment it's the bike that's changing the game. I think that for young people, it's a good opportunity for participating in the Dakar because it costs the same as an enduro bike!”

He has come back to see, experience and conquer preconceptions, guided by an almost altruistic curiosity. Cesare is out to conquer the Dakar of tomorrow, like an emperor!

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