Juan Puga plans Dakar Rally return, Malle Moto entry in 2024

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Credit: Juan José Puga

In 2022, Juan José Puga and his father Juan Carlos Puga Davila raced the Dakar Rally together in Rally2. Two years later, the younger Puga intends to return to the Rally to compete the Malle Moto class on his own, a two-pronged statement as his father will not take part and the category does not allow outside assistance. He revealed his plans in an interview with Ecuadorian radio programme FM Mundo.

Puga made his Dakar début in 2019, when the Rally took place in South America, and became the first rider from Ecuador to complete the race. He and his father Juan raced together in 2022; although Puga Jr. experienced early bike trouble and hurt his shoulder, the duo reached the finish as part of the Dakar Experience for entries who were eliminated from overall contention but could complete the Rally.

“The idea is to return to the times of before, where the competitor went through many
tests of survival, in a category where you are not allowed to be helped by anyone,”
Puga explained. “You don’t have the mechanics do it. You build your own vehicle, you put together your tent, you participate in the motorcycle, navigation, everything, it is called the Original category without assistance.

“This is how it really was forty years ago, the Paris–Dakar Rally was for twenty days and the pilots were just going to survive. They spent many hours on the motorcycle carrying all kinds of inputs, tools, spare parts in case the bike was damaged. They put together their tents, they were practically used, they were not other times, and what we want to capture is the essence. If you like it, then I tell you, we are going to try to win the incredible Original category.”

While his father will not compete in the Rally again, the family will accompany him in a cheerleader role.

Much of Puga’s 2023 will consist of “training, training, a lot, a lot of it. We are talking about going to challenge the Dakar in its Original category and, on top of that, daring to want to win, which requires a lot of training. […]

“This is physical. We are talking about having to build muscle to resist, aerobic, to be able to carry the greatest inertia all day, maintain inertia practically all day, navigation where one unlocks the waypoints that open during the day. This is very important because that’s where the race goes. There are 100 to 200 points on the satellite which one in his vehicle has to pass around a hundred meters in all directions, which are the most difficult. There are others that are 500 meters in all directions, others are one thousand to three thousand, and the winner is who can figure it out faster without losing time.”

Fifteen Malle Moto riders completed the 2023 Dakar Rally. Although winner Charan Moore will return for the 2024 edition, he does not plan on defending his title.

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