After five years of development, CFMOTO Thunder Racing Team will finally make their Dakar Rally début in 2024 as part of a programme that will take them across nearly the entire World Rally-Raid Championship. Team manager Antanas Kanopkinas will race at Dakar on his CFMOTO CFORCE 1000 in the Quad category.
Created in 2019 as CFMOTO Factory Racing Team and assuming their current name three years later, CFMOTO Thunder Racing Team competed in various amateur rallies during their early years such as RBI Sport’s Fenix Rally, Rallye Breslau, and Balkan Offroad Rallye. They hoped to enter the 2023 Dakar Rally but had to put off the plans after being denied spots by the Amaury Sport Organisation. CFMOTO subsequently entered their first W2RC race at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge; Kanopkinas and Adomas Gančierius mainly contested the rally together, the latter going on to score a podium in his maiden World Championship start as he finished third.
They tackled the RBI Sport slate again as well as the Dinaric Rally in Croatia. In October, Kanopkinas received approval to race the 2024 Dakar Rally. He did not run the W2RC-ending Rallye du Maroc due to a crash injury at the Dinaric Rally while Gančierius became a co-driver in an SSV, though Gaëtan Martinez and Mindaugas Skudutis picked up where they left off by respectively finishing fifth and ninth.
“The goal that failed last year will finally happen this year,” said Kanopkinas. “For the first time in the history of motorsport, we will see a CFMOTO quad at the start line of the Dakar Rally. I hope to see it crossing finish line as well. We will do our best for that. The experience gained in various competitions over the past four years has increased the competences of the entire team and now we feel more prepared than ever.”
After Dakar, the team intends to run three of the remaining four events on the W2RC schedule. The lone date not circled on their calendar is the Desafío Ruta 40, the lone event in the Americas, in June.
Other rounds on the 2024 W2RC are the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in late February, BP Ultimate Rally-Raid Transibérico in April, and the Rallye du Maroc in October. The Dakar begins on 5 January; Kanopkinas is one of ten entrants in the Quad class for Dakar.