Dakar Rally: The Race Will Go On

Paul Carruthers | January 12, 2005

The following release is from KTM…

It is a quiet day for the KTM- factory pilots. Only last night, they pushed their bikes, which were all ready, over to the airplanes. Leaving, mentally as well as physically, tough days they had in Mauritania behind them, the drivers left Kiffa at noon.

In the bivouac of Bamako, they are now slowly starting to look into the next stage, the race to Dakar. The decision to go on with the rally was not easy for the pilots. Nevertheless, of their own accord, they want to go on – no one has forced them to go.

Jean Brucy, Team KTM Gauloises, says with tears in his eyes: “By all means, we want a “blue one” to be on the podium in Dakar. In respect of Richard did we go on this rally and we will finish in respect of Fabrizio as well. That is our way of remembrance.” Team mate Alfie Cox adds: “We have been working for this Dakar for one year. I have invested a lot of energy to be within the top drivers. It is our decision to finish the rally. And I am sure that Fabrizio would have accepted this due to him being a great sportsman.”

The drivers of the Team KTM Repsol-Red Bull are thinking likewise. Gio Sala: “I believe that is what he would have wanted us to do to drive to Dakar. We cannot change it by stopping. Nothing. The only thing that is not working a 100 % properly anymore is the head. The head is not clear anymore. But every rally driver has to live with the risk of something being able to happen. We suppress it though. Until it happens to someone, who one knows well.”

Scot Harden from Team KTM Red Bull USA talks about the reasons why his team will continue the rally, “Chris, Kellon and I came here to reach Dakar. It is our goal. The boys still need to learn a lot. Among the things they need to learn is how to manage difficult situations.

For us Fabrizio symbolized the ideal racing driver. Personally I will always remember his birthday on New Year’s Eve. The room was full of balloons and he burst all of them. He was just like a little boy. One wasn’t enough for him. He had to burst them all. Whatever he did, he did it properly.”

This day was a tough one for the mechanics. Due to today’s marathon stage the bikes couldn’t be touched tonight in the bivouac at Bamako. Therefore the men had to make necessary repairs and preparations already last night. This morning they started on their long tour through the Sahara. Surely, this trip wasn’t an easy one for any of them. Their thoughts were with Fabrizio, with his family and centering on the question: Why? But everyone had to stay focused and concentrated. Wasn’t it Heinz Kinigadner’s who explained yesterday? “The Dakar is no walk in the park.”

Tomorrow is the second part of the marathon stage. It leads for 668 km from Bamako to Kayes. The special runs for 370 kilometers. The riders will need to proof flexibility on the stage. At first speed is important, then the small track crosses through bush land and towards the end of the special a rugged and rocky scenery demands cross-country skills from the drivers.

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.