Riaan van Niekerk and the Broadlink KTM rally team have finally finished the last step of preparation for the 2014 Dakar rally here in Rosario. The admin checks, paddock and podium areas are all very disjointed and scattered all over Rosario which has made coordination and testing a little difficult over the last few days. Heavy rain on the second of January turned all the test areas in the region into sloshy mud making it impossible for the KTM Factory team to test, nonetheless all the bikes have passed the checks and are in parc ferme waiting for the final parade and podium tonight.
Tomorrow morning the 2014 Dakar starts in Rosario at 4:20am. Riaan’s race number is 30, he is both excited and nervous at the same time, saying that this year’s race is set to be much harder than last year. There are over 1000Km’s of extra special stages this year, with lot’s more technical sections thrown in as well as two marathon stages. The 1st day starts off with a 405Km liaison followed by a special stage of 180Km and another 224Km liaison finishing in San Luis. As always the start is ferocious and with any one of 20 riders that can win the race, the gloves are sure to come off, those that stay level headed and consistent over the next two weeks will be sure to reach the podium in two weeks time.
Here are some quotes from the rest of the team after yesterday’s Karcher press conference:
Marc said he is very happy with the structure of the KTM Factory team and his team mates, he has known them for many years and there is a good feeling in the team. Some people left the team, but he stayed for a reason, he has always been happy, the team is very professional and very precise, driven by passion for Dakar and rally sport. He said that adding the 2 marathon stages, goes back a bit to the roots of the dakar adventure, he likes this and says it is very positive. It will not be easy but it is the philosophy of rally sport that riders have to think a bit and look after their equipment.
Marc was asked, who is the best rider in the team, he answered that there are four riders that are number 1. There are no team orders and no team strategy, all riders are equal. We will take it one day at a time. The competition is getting stronger, which is very positive, competition is healthy and good for the sport. He said it was difficult last year to miss the race, because of his shoulder injury, but it was the right decision.He is happy to be back, he feels good and is happy with the progress throughout the year. The new bike is awesome and took lots of hard work to build the new bike, he is completely happy with the bike and it is capable of delivering a good result.
Ruben was asked about the passing of Kurt Caselli. Ruben said he lost a friend and a team mate, but we have to be professional about this, when the race starts we have to forget and focus on the reason we are here, winning the Dakar. This unfortunately happens in the sport that we do, it is always tough to deal with, but right now we have to shift our focus to the race. Ruben was happy to stay with the team, he is happy with the new bike and structure of the team, the strategy is to win the Dakar.
Chaleco was asked how it feels to be back in the factory team and how it feels, that he has not tested the new bike much, how is the competition between him and Marc, about the possibility that he is using the new bike, when and why was the decision done. His expectation for Dakar in general Chaleco explained about the help he received from the factory team last year, and he is very happy to be back in the KTM Factory team, it is the most professional etc. He feels very strong and comfortable with the professionalism of the team, he is in the best place. About testing the new bike, he had a chance to test the bike in Spain a few weeks ago and is really happy with it, he says that it will work well and it has the potential and the ability to win the Dakar. The decision to ride the new bike was confirmed after the Rally of Maroc, where he recognised the ability of the bike in the technical terrain. His expectation for dakar, he would love to reach the podium again in Santiago the capital of his country. He was asked how he likes Argentina and Rosario, he said he had a warm welcome and complimented ASO on their choice of having the start here in Rosario.
They asked him how it feels to be back in the team, he was elated to be back in the Factory structure, saying how professional the team is. He was asked about the chance to ride the new bike and he told them that he did not have much time to test it properly, but he is a professional rider and has the ability to adapt quickly to the new equipment. He like Chaleco is happy and pleased to be back in the KTM Factory structure. Follow our progress at www.broadlinkktmrally.co.za or download the Broadlink KTM Rally app on play store.
Voice Clip: Darryl Curtis with Riaan van Niekerk