Malle Moto, officially known as Original by Motul, might be the hardest class to race at the Dakar Rally as bike riders do not have crews to help them and only some supplies. The difficulty were upped even more for the 2023 Rally due to its longer route, but Charan Moore was up for the challenge.
Moore battled with Javi Vega throughout the fourteen stages. After Moore took the overall lead by winning the first leg, Vega gave chase before losing ground when Mike Wiedemann won Stage #3. Vega finally got by Moore with a Stage #5 victory, though it was short lived as he lost it a day later.
When the Rally resumed following Stage #7’s cancellation for rain, Mário Patrão threw a wrench into Vega’s pursuit by finishing second to Moore in the next two legs and Vega’s deficit grew to over twenty-three minutes, further exacerbated by a Stage #9 fall. Vega, despite nursing rib pain, received a mulligan when Moore respectively suffered gearbox and radiator failures in Stages #10 and #11, enabling Vega to pull ahead.
Moore was able to recover by winning the second half of the Empty Quarter Marathon before delivering the coup de grâce in the fourteenth and final leg. In addition to winning Malle Moto, he finished twenty-eighth overall among all bikes and twelfth in Rally2, which Malle Moto is grouped within but has its own standings.
He described the race as “[a]n incredible journey. A rollercoaster from start to finish. Bike issues, a complete engine change, radiator issues, bush mechanics – all ace out from the comforts of a tent and box of tools and spares but enjoyed every second!
“When the mind is right they can throw anything at you! Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose!”
Despite coming up short, the runner-up is Vega’s best career finish in five tries; his previous high was fourteenth in Malle Moto in 2021, when his run was hindered by broken ribs and hemothorax. The Spaniard has attempted Malle Moto every year since the Rally moved to Saudi Arabia in 2020.
“Sacrifice is lazy, dreams are cool when you dream them but if you really want to go for something, stop dreaming and get into trouble,” wrote Vega. “I had a great team behind me, my friends, my best coaches and Sarita (partner Sara García), what can I say about her, she is the one who calms me down, the one who has taught this sport and the one that every pilot would like to have as a team-mate.
“The only Yamaha to finish the Dakar and possibly the last to climb to the podium of the toughest race in the world. […] We closed a stage, an epic Dakar, and does anyone know what will happen next? Hopefully new goals, new motivations, and new projects that and we can enjoy and pass it on to you.”
Wiedemann retired the day after his win following a very bizarre adventure. Just eighty kilometres into Stage #4, his fuel pump began to fail and cause gas to leak, resulting in him running out at around KM 150. Twenty minutes later, Rally2 rider and friend Mathieu Troquier gave him two litres to get moving again, only to run out a second time after ten kilometres. Fortunately for Wiedemann, this occurred near RallyGP’s Ross Branch, who was having bike problems of his own, and the latter convinced two local fans to fetch them fuel. Another bike stoppage occurred twenty minutes after resuming, prompting Wiedemann to partially disassemble the bike and empty its tank, during which he paid €50 to a pair of spectators to get more gas. The killing blow arrived when water got into the fuel tank.
Although Malle Moto competitors are prohibited from having support crews follow them like their RallyGP and Rally2 counterparts (a similar rule exists for all classes during marathon stages), they are allowed to receive help from their peers and even spectators as was the case with Wiedemann. A particularly amusing instance occurred during the final stage when Cesare Zacchetti was among many that got stuck in a mud patch after twenty-nine kilometres; Zacchetti’s bike was so embedded into the ground that he and Rally2 team-mate Ottavio Missoni Jr. had to extract it via helicopter.
American Rally Originals brought five men to Dakar with the aim of becoming the first rider from the United States to finish the Rally without assistance. Morrison Hart and non-ARO rider Petr Vlcek accomplished the mission when they finished fifteenth and eighth.
Hart’s team-mates were not as fortunate. Kyle McCoy exited after breaking his leg in Stage #4, while David Pearson suffered a C7 fracture and torn thigh muscle in the following stage with which he still made the finish before calling it a race. Paul Neff dislocated his wrist, broke multiple ribs, and received stable fractures in his lower spine after crashing into a dune in Stage #10. Pearson’s brother Jim left with two stages to go for mechanical problems.
James Hillier overcame a dislocated collarbone to finish thirteenth in his Dakar début, meaning the former Isle of Man TT champion can now say he conquered two of the toughest motorbike races in the world. One spot behind Hillier was Carlos Verza, the only rider competing on a Quad. Kirsten Landman, the only female rider in the class, was in front of Hillier by a position. She was among a three-pronged success story for South Africa alongside Moore’s win and Stuart Gregory finishing ninth.
“Malle Moto/Originals by Motul Class has become my family and I have made so many new friends,” posted Landman prior to the final stage. “It’s been the experience of a life time.”
Malle Moto overall finishers
|1||40||Charan Moore*||HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing||52:24:42||Leader|
|2||99||Javi Vega*||Pont Grup Yamaha||52:45:43||+ 21:05|
|3||43||Mário Patrão*||Mário Patrão Motosport||53:55:24||+ 1:30:42|
|4||45||David Pabiška*||SP Moto Bohemia Racing Team||55:44:56||+ 3:20:14|
|5||129||David Gaits*||Happyness Racing Igoa Moto||57:18:29||+ 4:53:47|
|6||50||Simon Marčič*||Marčič||58:46:18||+ 6:21:36|
|7||57||Makis Dewi Rees-Stavros*||Stavros||59:14:03||+ 6:49:21|
|8||63||Petr Vlcek*||Detyens Racing||61:45:17||+ 9:20:35|
|9||100||Stuart Gregory*||Stuart Gregory||63:15:41||+ 10:50:59|
|10||128||Clément Razy*||Clément Razy||63:31:56||+ 11:07:14|
|11||49||Cesare Zacchetti*||Team Lucky Explorer||64:18:18||+ 11:53:36|
|12||90||Kirsten Landman*||ASP Rope Access International||67:37:08||+ 15:12:26|
|13||80||James Hillier*||Rich Racing OMG Racing Ltd.||70:05:40||+ 17:40:58|
|14||158||Carlos Alejandro Verza*||Verza Rally Team||81:35:00||+ 29:10:18|
|15||105||Mo Hart*||American Rally Originals||85:45:15||+ 33:20:33|
Malle Moto stage winners
|Prologue||40||Charan Moore*||HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing||43:40|
|Stage #1||40||Charan Moore*||HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing||4:47:52|
|Stage #2||40||Charan Moore*||HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing||6:05:49|
|Stage #3||91||Mike Wiedemann*||Wiedemann Motorsports||5:27:07|
|Stage #4||99||Javi Vega*||Pont Grup Yamaha||5:22:53|
|Stage #5||99||Javi Vega*||Pont Grup Yamaha||5:23:06|
|Stage #6||40||Charan Moore*||HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing||3:46:35|
|Stage #7||N/A||Cancelled due to rain||N/A||N/A|
|Stage #8||40||Charan Moore*||HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing||4:29:23|
|Stage #9||40||Charan Moore*||HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing||3:52:37|
|Stage #10||50||Simon Marčič*||Marčič||2:08:03|
|Stage #11||43||Mário Patrão*||Mário Patrão Motorsport||3:29:30|
|Stage #12||40||Charan Moore*||HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing||2:11:49|
|Stage #13||40||Charan Moore*||HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing||2:44:28|
|Stage #14||40||Charan Moore*||HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing||1:28:03|
|T1||200||Nasser Al-Attiyah||Toyota Gazoo Racing||45:03:15|
|T2||250||Ronald Basso*||Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body||107:39:42|
|T3||303||Austin Jones||Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team||51:55:53|
|T4||428||Eryk Goczał||EnergyLandia Rally Team||53:10:14|
|T5||502||Janus van Kasteren||Boss Machinery Team de Rooy IVECO||54:03:33|
|RallyGP||47||Kevin Benavides||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||44:27:20|
|Rally2||17||Romain Dumontier||Team Dumontier Racing||47:03:58|
|Malle Moto||40||Charan Moore*||HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing||52:24:42|
|Quad||151||Alexandre Giroud*||Drag’on Rally Team||56:44:30|
|Classic||778||Juan Morera*||Toyota Classic||428 points|