The KTM Factory Racing Rally team has announced a high-profile ‘rookie’ addition to the line-up with MotoGP rider Danilo Petrucci set to trade an RC16 for a 450 Rally bike and take on the 2022 Dakar in January.

‘Petrux’ is no stranger to enduro or motocross and has the skills off-road. In fact Enduro21 bumped into him at the ISDE in Italy this year where he was fully immersed in the home team’s success.

Aiming to achieve a lifelong ambition, Petrucci says he is fully aware the jump into rally and the Dakar will be a very big challenge. “For me it is really a dream come true to race the Dakar. It’s an event I’ve always wanted to do since I was a child when I was watching video tapes of the Dakar Rally from the 80s and 90s.”

Danilo has already begun his rally preparations (which looks like it is going pretty well, see image above!) ahead of the Dakar and will benefit enormously from the strong squad at Red Bull KTM Factory Racing which of course includes current World Champion Matthias Walkner, two-time Dakar winner Toby Price, reigning Dakar champion Kevin Benavides, and Dakar winner Sam Sunderland.

“I think I will be the only rider that in just over one month has competed in MotoGP and then the Dakar Rally.” Adds Petrucci. “My main target is just to finish the race and enjoy it. The first approach was to have some road book training with Jordi [Viladoms], he competed in the race many times and finished on the podium, so he has been great in helping me learn this special art.

I had my first taste of riding the KTM 450 RALLY recently at an initial test in the Dubai dunes, where I was with KTM’s Dakar champions and I was able to learn so much from them – it was great to see them riding, and they were super nice and helpful to me. I hope the training for the next month will be enough; for sure it will be a tough race, but I am excited.”

Following the final MotoGP of this season, Danilo’s will switch focused to rally riding and navigational education ahead of his first attempt at the 14-day, 8,000-kilometer event, which begins on January 1, 2022.

Danilo Petrucci has accumulated 10 podium finishes and two wins in his 10 seasons in the MotoGP World Championship before switching to the Tech3 KTM Factory Racing team in 2021. After a less than successful year on the KTM RC16 the Italian rider is staying under the French race team colours for 2022 but the machinery and racing is going to be a whole lot different to say the least.

Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsports Director says: “Danilo’s talent and his character means he is one of the few elite level guys that we believe can make this radical move from the asphalt to the dunes. It’s a great story for a great guy. We want to thank him for his professionalism and all his efforts as part of the Tech3 team in our MotoGP project and now it’s time for another ‘world’!”