Daniel Sanders signs with KTM Factory Rally Team
KTM Factory Racing Rally Team has signed Daniel Sanders to race the 2021 Dakar Rally – the 26-year-old Australian will make his first competitive outing aboard a KTM 450 RALLY machine at the upcoming Andalucia Rally in Spain this October.
Sanders, who is famously fast in the sand and has consistently proved himself both at ISDE (where he was fastest overall rider in 2019) and in his domestic Australian Off Road Championship (AORC), will make the switch with immediate effect. Daniel has also won the infamous Hattah Desert Race – an event previously won by compatriot and fellow KTM rally racer Toby Price – and previously raced for the KTM team in EnduroGP.
Sanders is already in Europe training under the watchful eye of KTM Rally Team Manager Jordi Viladoms and familiarizing himself with the KTM 450 RALLY bike as well as developing his road book and navigational skills. Daniel is also getting to know the tight-knit rally team as he learns from Dakar winners, Price, Matthias Walkner and Sam Sunderland.
Sanders will make his first competitive appearance for KTM Factory Racing at the Andalucia Rally on October 6-10 with the goal of qualifying for the 2021 Dakar Rally to be held in Saudi Arabia next January.
Daniel Sanders: “I’m really excited to join the KTM Factory Racing team and start my rally career. I have to admit it’s something I have always wanted to do but was perhaps planning to get into it a little later. As it stands, with the current worldwide pandemic, there’s not that much racing going on, so when this opportunity came up to join the rally team, I grabbed it with both hands! I’ve had a few days on the bike so far and some time getting to grips with the road book and I think it’s gone pretty well. The bike is great and handles so well, it’s really stable at speed. I know I have a lot of knowledge to gain but Jordi and the rest of the team have been great. I feel like I’ve fitted in really easily and it’s obvious that everyone works really hard for a common goal. I’m looking forward to getting some more time on the bike and then my first race here in Spain next month.”
Jordi Viladoms – KTM Rally Team Manager: “It’s great to have a rider of Daniel’s skill join the team. Already he has shown he’s got really good pace on the bike but is also a very fast learner in terms of the road book and navigation. It’s been invaluable to have him here in Spain to get him up to speed with everything and meet the whole KTM rally family. The plan is to take Daniel through the same teaching procedure we have been through with all of the riders that have previously come into the team from another discipline. He will ride for the KTM Factory Racing team in a junior capacity to minimize the pressure on him and allow him to develop his skills on the bike. Hopefully, he will contest the Dakar next January and then follow our full FIM Cross-Country Rallies program for the rest of the year. We’re really pleased to have Daniel with us and can’t wait to see what he can achieve with the team.”
It's fair to say we didn’t see this one coming.