until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


KTM offers Dakar shot to its Tech3 MotoGP exile Petrucci

by Simon Patterson
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Tech3 KTM rider Danilo Petrucci has confirmed that KTM has offered him a chance to compete on the Dakar Rally, following his likely exit from MotoGP at the end of this season.

The news that Tech3 KTM will run an all-rookie line-up next year in the shape of Raul Fernandez and Remy Gardner, leaves Petrucci with limited options for remaining on the grid next year.

“I think it was an idea from Mr Pierer,” explained Petrucci, referring to KTM Ceo Stefan Pierer. “He proposed it to me on Saturday night and I thought he was joking, but he was not. Then we started to talk, and two days ago [motorsport boss] Pit Beirer called me and more or less repeated to me what they told me on Saturday.

“There is this option, that I am taking in my mind. I always would like to race there, and they told me they are ready for 2022. Pit said he can send me if I promise to just watch the panorama and landscapes, because they think it is quite dangerous if I go there to make a result.

“Then I have one whole year to train and to do some races, and from 2023 maybe I can be more competitive. I was really happy to hear that, and it’s one of the options for my future. For sure I really want to thank them for this kind of offer.”

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It’s unknown whether the space would be within the factory team, which currently has a five-man lineup in the shape of reigning champion Kevin Benavides, past winners Toby Price, Sam Sunderland and Matthias Walkner and 2021 top rookie Daniel Sanders, or whether the manufacturer (who won every race from 2001 to 2019) would find a space elsewhere.

It has run a separate support team in the past as well, with the riders in part acting as water carriers and spare parts carriers for the factory riders – a spot that could well be perfect for Petrucci in 2022 should he (as he suggests) take a year to learn the ropes.

He has some experience already in the world of rallying, completing a race last year in Sardinia – and while he says he’s not mentally ready to leave MotoGP, it could be that his greatest disadvantage in road racing could well be an advantage in the world of cross country rally.

“The most difficult thing for me to digest is that I still feel competitive,” he explained, “but my body is no longer competitive here. This is the most difficult thing for my brain to understand. I always thought about staying in MotoGP for many years, but I am too big for MotoGP. I weigh almost double Pedrosa. It’s like we are Matryoshka dolls and I am the cover of Pedrosa!

“It’s already a lot what I’ve done in MotoGP – a big rider like me has never been as competitive as me. The things that excite me are that no rider has made this change, and in two or three years I want to be competitive there. I am scared because I don’t have so much experience, but I think we can manage it.

“In the past I wanted to do Dakar for fun, but now I want to do it to understand what my speed is. It is completely another world and that no one has tried it in the past is what excites me the most. At least I can be the first one to do it.”

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