Oscar Polli will return to the Dakar Rally on two wheels in 2024, albeit with a catch as he and Silvayn Espinasse will pilot the Tacita Discanto electric bikes in the Mission 1000 category.
“Racing in the desert with an electric motorbike is not only an innovative challenge, but an opportunity to professionally approach new technologies and an increasingly eco-sustainable future,” Polli told Moto Excape. “An electric off-road motorcycle, with gears, is a very important test bench, an absolute novelty that will allow me to try and understand how to ride in the most extreme conditions.
“The Dakar is always a challenge, regardless of the vehicle and the kilometres travelled: every single metre, stone or dune hides many dangers. Furthermore, this experience will help me grow as a coach on a vehicle that will be increasingly appreciated and used by younger kids, the real future in which to invest.”
Polli raced the Dakar Rally from 1998 to 2007, after enjoying success in the Italian Motorally Championship and races like the Rallye des Pharaons. He won the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship (predecessor to the current World Rally-Raid Championship) in the Open Sport category in 2008. Four years later, he claimed the Africa Eco Race in the bike category for which he received the Medal for Athletic Valour from the Italian Olympic Committee.
In 2022, Polli returned to Dakar as the co-driver of a 1997 Nissan Terrano piloted by Giacomo Clerici in the Dakar Classic. They finished 111th in the navigation-based event.
While Polli raced the Dakar during its run from Paris to Africa, Espinasse did so on a bike when it was a South American event in the 2010s. He reached the finish in his most recent start in 2017.
An Italian brand, Tacita is one of three bike manufacturers competing in Mission 1000 alongside Green Power Race and Arctic Leopard. Mission 1000 is intended for vehicles on power soruces like hydrogen and electric, and follows the main rally but otherwise runs a separate 100-kilometre course. Other entrants include KH-7 Epsilon Team‘s MAN hydrogen truck, Rainbow Truck Team‘s hydrogen Volkswagen Amarok, and the Japanese HySE-X.
The 2024 Dakar Rally kicks off on 5 January.