After Kove Moto‘s successful Dakar Rally début in which all three of their riders completed the race, the Chinese bike manufacturer has signed their first foreign factory rider. On Tuesday, Neels Theric announced he has gained factory backing from Kove for 2023, with plans of contesting three rallies before entering the 2024 Dakar Rally with them.
The Frenchman will enter two of the three remaining World Rally-Raid Championship rounds on a Kove 450 Rally Factory, the Sonora Rally on 22–28 April and season-ending Rallye du Maroc on 12–18 October, as well as the Baja España Aragón on 20–23 July. While the latter is not on the W2RC calendar, it is part of the FIM Bajas World Cup; his father Daniel Theric won the race’s Bikes overall in 1986.
All of these will culminate in his second Dakar in 2024.
“The project is to develop the bike to make it the highest performance possible in direct relation to the factory,” explained Theric.
Theric previously raced with GasGas, enjoying a strong maiden Dakar Rally in January as he finished fifth overall in Rally2 with top-ten runs in all but two stages and a podium in Stage #9.
Kove had announced earlier in March that they would enter the Sonora Rally, the third leg of the W2RC. At Dakar, riders Sunier Sunier, Deng Liansong, and Fang Mingji respectively finished twenty-seventh, forty-fourth, and fifty-fourth. Such an achievement completed the first step of team owner and director Zhang Xue, who had a five-year plan for the rally raid programme in which they would try to finish their first Dakar, score a top twenty in their second, a top ten in the third, podium in the fourth, and victory in the fifth.