KTM’s racing gurus have announced it’s official: Danilo Petrucci is switching from MotoGP to the Dakar Rally.

There were rumors about this earlier this fall, when Petrucci was told there was no room for him at KTM’s Tech3 roadracing team next season. At that point, Petrucci was quite open about the situation, saying the problem was that he was just too big and heavy to compete in GP racing. After all, the series has been dominated for the past decade by, errrrr, “jockey-sized” Spanish riders. So, what else to do? KTM does seem to value Petrucci as a member of the organization, and everyone agreed it was time for him to try desert racing.

Sounds crazy, but apparently Jordi Viladoms has been out helping Petrucci train for the rally, and this is all happening for the 2022 race. In other words: Petrucci is basically going to wrap up with Tech3 this year, and pack his bags to fly to Saudi Arabia for a two-week, 8,000-kilometer race, having never done any FIM rally or similar event previously.

Is that a bad thing? Uh, it’s pretty much a cinch that Petrucci won’t win, place, or show. From KTM’s press release, it sounds like he’s riding a bike with Tech3 colors—does this possibly signify a new plan for a KTM satellite squad at Dakar? Who knows. Anyway, here’s what Petrucci himself said about the whole afffair:

“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. Now, thanks to KTM, this dream is coming true … I think I will be the only rider that in just over one month has competed in MotoGP and then the Dakar Rally – so it is with great pride that I go there. My main target is just to finish the race and enjoy it. The first approach was to have some road book training with Jordi, 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.”

Haha. Crazy times indeed, because it’s very rare to see the worlds of roadracing and desert racing collide. However, Petrucci will most likely be just fine, even if he doesn’t finish towards the front, as many, many Average Joe enduro racers have run Dakar and survived. Petrucci obviously understands traction, speed, and the importance of physical conditioning. It should be interesting to see his progress this year!

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