While Kees Koolen celebrated becoming the first World Rally-Raid Championship class winner in an FIA category (T5) at the Rallye du Maroc, Mason Klein got to do so on the FIM side as his overall win in the rally secured the Rally2 title with one round remaining.
Klein has dominated Rally2 all season with BAS World KTM Racing Team, winning his class in his Dakar Rally début followed by the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. At last week’s Rallye du Maroc, he finished third in the prologue before winning Stage #1B to take the overall lead and never relinquished it for the rest of the event; he ended the rally with three leg victories (including Stages #3 and #4) and a forty-minute, twenty-five-second advantage over team-mate Bradley Cox.
Having gone three-for-three in W2RC events, Klein has eighty-eight total points. Romain Dumontier, who has finished on the overall podium in each round, is twenty points back in second. While the season does not end until the Andalucía Rally on 18–23 October, the overall winner can only receive twenty-five points at most.
His success adds to a growing list of American achievements in rally raid bike racing. While Ricky Brabec and Skyler Howes steal the show with their Dakar success, the former winning the Bike overall in 2020, the twenty-year-old Klein is leading the new generation of riders. The 2023 Dakar Rally is set to feature at least ten American riders, the most of their kind, including The Checkered Flag interviewee Ace Nilson. Like many of his peers, Klein cut his teeth in North American desert racing before heading abroad, having raced in Best In The Desert and the AMA National Hare and Hound championship.
Despite his accomplishments, Klein has had to rely on crowdfunding to make it to races like Dakar. Nilson, a fellow privateer, told TCF that those without factory funding have to pay a multitude of fees such as but not limited to registration, bike rental, lodging, and training. With how quickly these costs can add up, many independent competitors turn to donations to afford the trip.
Klein has launched a fundraiser on Taco Moto Co. to sell USD$30 t-shirts (€30.89), and he also accepts PayPal donations.