Dakar

Ardit Kurtaj eyeing Dakar Rally debut in 2024

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Credit: Ardit Kuraj

Ardit Kurtaj earned a ticket to the Dakar Rally when he completed the Rallye du Maroc in 2022, which he will redeem in 2024 in what will be his first time competing in the legendary rally. Of course, there was a year in between those two races, which he will use to further hone his repertoire.

He finished seventieth overall in Rally2 at the 2022 Rallye du Maroc, racing a Husqvarna bike for HT Rally Raid, to secure his Dakar eligibility. The event is a leg on the Road to Dakar, a programme intended to reward riders with no prior Dakar Rally experience with free admission.

Since Kurtaj did not win the RtD, he will have to cover the expenses of taking part on his own, which can run over €124 thousand for Husqvarna. In his interview with The Checkered Flag prior to the 2023 Dakar Rally, Rally2 rider Ace Nilson explained such costs include race registration, renting a bike and crew, medical and food, and fees for travel and lodging.

While intending to pay a chunk himself, Kurtaj launched a fundraiser to help cover costs.

He will take part in the upcoming Sonora Rally on 23–28 April in the Rally3 class, racing the #36 KTM. Coincidentally, his bike will be co-prepared by Nilson’s High Desert Adventures and DUUST.CO.

Kurtaj also intends to return to Morocco for the Rallye du Maroc on 12–18 October. Sonora and Morocco are once again Road to Dakar races for 2023, giving Kurtaj another shot to purge the Dakar admission fee from his budget.

The 41-year-old hopes to become the first rider from Carinthia, a province of Austria, to compete at Dakar. Outside of racing, he is a hotel manager for a ski resort in Nassfeld, Austria, and a regular skier. Fellow Austrian rally raid rider Matthias Walkner, a patron of the resort, has provided coaching for Kurtaj.

He began racing cross-country rallies in 2018 at Rally Albania.

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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