Red Bull KTM Factory Racing will compete in next month’s Dakar Rally with a trio of hugely experienced former class winners headlining their entry, with all three riders wanting to help the team regain its championship it lost in last year’s edition.
The KTM squad will head to Saudi Arabia for the 2021 running of the long-distance off road event with a set of revamped KTM 450 Rally bikes for Toby Price, Sam Sunderland, Matthias Walkner and Daniel Sanders and each rider has the objective of to win their class and help the team regain the trophy they lost last year for the first time in 18 years.
Australian rider Price has won the Dakar twice in his career – most recently in 2019 while suffering from a broken bone in his hand – and he admitted ahead of this year’s event that he can’t wait to return to Saudi Arabia for a second year.
“The landscapes we got to ride through in Saudi Arabia last time out really blew me away,” said Price.
“At times it felt like you weren’t really on Earth, there were red rock mountains that had you feeling like you were cruising through Mars. I was expecting lots of dunes, but on that first week we got a lot of hard-pack piste and stony roads.”
While British rider Sunderland also added: “During my first experience of the Dakar in Saudi Arabia I was really amazed by the terrain and the scenery that we passed.”
“I didn’t realise before that they had that much variance in terrain. Once you’ve tasted victory, your only goal is to try and rematch that. I think there’s now about 10 guys who can win the Dakar. May the best man win.”
The third rider in the team Walkner is also no stranger to tasting success on the Dakar, after winning in 2018 and said that he’s hoping to do the best he can for KTM next month.
“I’m working towards our goal of bringing KTM back to first place at the Dakar,” he commented.
“When the superstar veterans like (Marc) Coma were gone it was pretty hard for my generation to fill their shoes. Honda did a great job at the last Dakar and Ricky (Brabec) deserved the win. Now it’s coming closer and I’m getting more and more excited.”
Although not a former winner himself, the team’s fourth rider Sanders is a graduate of KTM’s Factory Racing Junior Rally Program, with the event getting underway on January 3.
The event is set to take place over 12 stages, with the final day of the event taking place on January 15.