The 2017 Dakar Rally is good to go, of the 146 bike entrants here’s a run through the top contenders looking to go the 8818 kilometre distance to do the business this January…

Toby Price KTM #1 

“I’m excited about being part of the Dakar this year. It’s going to be a difficult one, ranging from the navigation to the high altitude. It’s definitely going to be a challenge but it’s also one I’m looking forward to. It’s going to be a long race and a long two weeks, but we’ll just get to the end of every day, hope for the best and go from there. But everything is looking good, the bike is good and the team is strong, so it’s exciting times ahead.”

Stefan Svitko KTM #2

“For me, winning money is not my motivation. I don’t do it for the money. If I was told that I won money for another place, I would be willing to spend it on buying a new wheel to increase the chance to be first. For me, the motivation is just to win. It’s clear that I have to live from something, because I have a family. I know that one day I will finish with bikes and remain so to say “naked and barefoot,” but I’m doing it from the heart.”

Pablo Quintanilla Husqvarna #3 

“I have prepared well, have no injuries, I’ve had a great season in the world championship and have a great bike and team supporting me. I have all that I need to do well. This year’s event will be difficult, with many fast riders hoping to do well. I am sure that this year we will see what Marc Coma believes is a true rally. I feel confident in my navigational skills in the open deserts, and also on the mountain tracks, so I am looking forward to the challenge. After finishing on the podium the next step is an obvious one.”

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Helder Rodrigues Yamaha #5 

"I was very happy to finish 5th in my 10th Dakar. It was a race where you had to take risks and I was really satisfied to finish in the Top 5. It was a difficult. I was sick during the first week but we did a great job with Yamaha. We never had problems on the tracks, which was excellent and it permitted me to gain a lot of confidence.”

Adrien Van Beveren Yamaha #6

“Sixth place in 2016 proved to me that technically I am capable of racing at the sharp end of the order. I know I still have a lot to learn. My objective is, like last year, to be at the finish line of the 2017 Dakar. I have the speed to be among the Top 5, but there are so many hazards on a race like the Dakar, so I have to keep a cool head, not take any shortcuts and not take any unnecessary risks.”

Gerard Farres Himoinsa KTM #8

”If Marc Coma says it will be a tough Dakar, it will be true. After two editions less complicated than in previous years, he’s worked to fix that. But we like hard races, and we have a lot of experience that we can take advantage of very well.”

Ricky Brabec HRC Honda #9

“I have only done one Dakar Rally until now. It’s a brutal race over fourteen days and I had never done anything like that before. One day you have hot weather and the next day it’s freezing cold – so I think that’s hard. The biggest challenge for me is just trying to improve on my ninth place from last year. This time we have a very solid team and all of us can push towards the front.”

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Armand Monleon KTM #10 

“The most important thing for me is to find a good rhythm. Last year I was wrong with the choice of rhythms. It was my first Dakar and I did not know how to manage it properly. Therefore, my main objective in this edition is to manage them correctly at each stage. I have to focus, first do things well and then the result will come ".

Joan Barreda HRC Honda #11

The Dakar is my life. Whenever I used to watch the Dakar on the television I would think about when I would be able to race in it. Now I’m here with a great team, a fine group and an ace bike. I believe that I’m better than ever. We have had a great year for both the preparation and the races. We’ve worked on the bike, strengthening its reliability and we’ve worked on fitness too with specific training regimes. We have got pace and good feelings. I have proven over the last few years that I’m up to the task, the only thing that has been missing is a bit of luck.

Joan Pedrero Sherco #12 

“For me, the Dakar is a pure wonder. People line up on the side of the tracks. Families bring tool boxes in case we need help. Some even have jerry cans with petrol if needed. The people are so passionate about the rally, but they also come out to lend a hand if need be. There is a real relationship that develops. They too go beyond their limits. There was none of this in Africa! Often it was total solitude over entire stages. South America is really something different.”

Sam Sunderland KTM #14 

“We’ve been training in Morocco to get some practice in how the new navigation rules will work, which are sure to make the race a little slower and more tricky. I also think the altitude will play a big role. The first week has a lot of stages at altitudes that go up to 4,800 meters. This will affect both us as riders, and our machinery, so it’s going to be tough.”

Michael Metge HRC Honda #15

“The Dakar Rally is known throughout the world but it is particularly linked to France. Many of the famous French riders like Cyril Despres or Stéphane Peterhansel have been great examples for me. It was because of them that I decided to race the Dakar. They have been the motivation to keep going stage after stage and go so far in the hope of getting a good result. My goal in this Dakar is to try and help my teammates to win the Dakar.”

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Matthias Walkner KTM #16 

“The Dakar is not just a race; it’s more of an adventure so it’s cool to be part of it. For sure it’s going to be really tough this year. There’s the altitude, the very long stages, a marathon stage and for six days we will be above 3,500 meters altitude. It’s going to be really hard for us, and the mechanics, and the bikes. But we have a good team and we’re prepared for it.” 

Paulo Goncalves HRC Honda #17

“My aim is to fight every day and do the best I can, as much for myself as for the Monster Energy Honda Team, so that in the end we will have something to celebrate.”

Laia Sanz KTM #19 

“This Dakar I think will be a little different from the last one. Everyone says we’ll have more navigation, and we know we have 5-6 stages of altitude. This will make the race even harder. We have some new parts where we’ve never been before – new places and new stages. We’ll have to see what happens.” 

Ivan Cervantes Himoinsa KTM #25

“I am leaving behind the discipline of enduro to focus on my future in rally. Last year was my debut and it was very useful to learn from my own mistakes and try to make progress in a very different sport, focus, navigation and consistency are vital. I have to prepare as well as I can to fight for a dreamed victory, a feeling of satisfaction similar to when I won my first World Championship”.

Pela Renet Husqvarna #31

 “My goal this year is to finish Dakar. Everyone now knows that the 2017 Dakar will be very difficult – one of the most difficult in recent years. But I am looking forward to the challenge. I have worked a lot on navigation in Spain, Portugal and Morocco. It will be very important, also riding at high altitude and the big differences in temperatures during the competition.”