Originally Posted by doyle
I'd have to say Caselli for sure after this year, but certainly Quinn Cody, Cody Webb, and Colton Udall and I'm sure there are a handful of others, but as we've seen with so many others, it has a lot more to do with the team, the bike, and the support rather than just the skill of the rider. It isn't so much as to which American rider has the skills, it's which American rider can put together a package up to the task.
I think that's really the issue here. The right rider is certainly important, but strictly youth/strength and a top rider elsewhere really doesn't guarantee anything in Dakar. Kurt is a good fit in general, but he's admitted that he's always hoped for Dakar in his future. He's just moving on his intended path and he's no spring chicken either. He's turning thirty and Cyril's what, 33? I think half the field (finishers) are 30-40?
I think a well placed consistent rider could push their way into the podium like Coma and Despres if that was their focus. (year round practice, testing, etc) I haven't looked at the records in a while but I don't recall if their ISDE and enduro records were of any note before they became the kings of Dakar... Cyril started out in trials, Coma I'm not so sure.
It really comes down to team and attitude. One might think you can't get it out of a washed up water boy, but aside of KTM how many of those 10-25th place have the real support of the front runners? Would they be more competitive if they knew they could swap an engine at a refuel?
Someone else mentioned it here, Jonah's decision to drop wasn't from a distaste from Dakar, it was lack of funding/support. Charlie and crew have done a great job, but if there was a KTM or HRC sized budget, I'm thinking he might have had another go.
A real 'American' effort needs to have the legs before it can run...