As a very successful Dakar Rally for Red Bull competitors comes to a close, another considers taking part in the future. World enduro champion, David Knight, blogs about the Dakar and riding head-to-head against Gee Atherton in Fort William...
I’ve been keeping up with all of the Dakar Rally on TV. I really enjoy watching not just the bikes, but all of the vehicle classes and who knows, maybe I’ll take part in it myself in the next couple of years.
I don’t think it’s what I would call the ‘real’ Dakar now, compared to how it used to be, because when it was staged in Africa it was a lot more dangerous. The riders were out in the middle of nowhere, whereas now it’s based around towns and the riders are sleeping in hotels every night.
I think I’d probably prefer to take part in it now, having said that, because of the fact that it is safer and it looks like more fun –the stages look like more fun than they were in Africa with more variety of terrain – not just desert. They also have spectators now, which they didn’t have in Africa and it looks like a good atmosphere for them and it’s more accessible.
Obviously, I can’t comment on what it’s like to ride – whether it’s better in South America or not – but a lot of the guys that I know who are in it reckon it’s a lot more fun now.
My priority is the world enduro championships, but I’d love to learn and understand the Dakar, then give it a proper crack after that. The riding itself I don’t think would be a problem for me, but the navigation side would be more difficult.
I went testing for it in 2007 in Tunisia and I was asked to ride then because someone got injured, but that was only a month and a half before the rally itself, so I didn’t want to jump straight in and do it, plus it was in Africa then as well.
I found during the test that there was a lot of it that I didn’t find that interesting. When you’re just flat out in the desert you get bored and that’s when you lose concentration and it becomes dangerous, but the terrain in Chile and Argentina looks more interesting.
If I were to do it, I’d ride in a couple of smaller ones first and get the feel of what it’s all about, rather than jumping straight in to the big one.
The Dakar is something that doesn’t really have many British competitors these days, which is a shame. The late John Deacon was about the only one really who won stages, but there hasn’t been anyone since.
I think that’s because of lack of funding mainly. I would probably have taken part in the Dakar before now if someone had come to me with the funds to make it happen.
If a competitive UK rider were to take part it would raise the profile of the Dakar in the UK, as it did briefly when John [Deacon] competed and again when the late Colin McRae took part.
One of the best things I've done lately was racing on my enduro bike (pictured above) against Gee [Atherton] on his mountainbike at Fort William in Scotland.
It was a brilliant day. The weather was a problem, so we didn’t have chance to complete as many runs as we’d have liked to and we had to take the result from that one run.
I'm not making excuses for coming second, but if we'd had a few more runs, the enduro bike would probably have proved quicker in the end. Both Gee and I were surprised how close it was and I'd love to do it again – maybe even with Gee on the enduro bike and me on the mountain bike!
I've been doing quite a bit of mountain biking lately, as Gee gave me one of his bikes and my partner (fellow Red Bull rider, Tarah Gieger) was given one of Rachel's [Atherton's]. I used to do quite a bit of mountain biking when I was younger and we're both getting back into it at the moment.
Next up for me is the Fast Eddy Extreme Enduro in Leeds on January 23, then it's the British Championships followed by the World's.
All the best,