Interview: David Knight on keeping the 2021 Dakar Rally dream alive!
Enduro legend David Knight MBE has had his dream of competing in the 2021 Dakar Rally scuppered and has launched a Gofundme campaign as he looks to get to the start line on the 3rd January. We caught up with him to see what has happened and how funding apart his preparation for the event has been going…
Dirt Hub: Hey David, we discussed back in the first lockdown your plans and ambitions to ride in the Dakar, back then you had a ride with a team, but you have now launched a Gofundme page to help you get there. Has the team deal fallen through?
David: Well the team is ready to go, as am I. Unfortunately, my sponsor, who’s idea it was and shared my dream to do the Dakar, offered to pay for everything I needed to do it, told me to get everything sorted, bikes, team, get me to Portugal so I could go roadbook training, basically do everything needed to get to Dakar 2021, which I then did, pulled out. Then, unfortunately, I was left (along with Henk who is the team owner in Holland and has been great through all this) with bikes that were unpaid for, training, hotels and leaving us a big mess of unpaid bills. Everything I’d feared had happened and the reason I hadn’t pursued Dakar since I was let down by a team a few years earlier.
Dirt Hub: Already you have had a phenomenal response to the page with over £12k already donating you must be please with that?
David: Yes, unbelievable, Sunday evening about 5 days in we are at about 20k which is unreal.
Dirt Hub: The target is £85k, is it the case that if you can’t reach that amount you won’t be able to go?
David: 85k is the bottom line really, if I’m somewhere near I’ll leave it open and let it run until the events finished and hope it gets to 85k. If, say, we don’t find a title sponsor and we get to 40k for example, it’s game over and I’ll call it quits. I’m a believer in if things don’t happen it’s for a good reason.
Dirt Hub: There are a number of Rally events that you have to complete to qualify for the Dakar, how have these gone for you so far and have you any others coming up before the Dakar?
David: With Covid, they all got cancelled and a new event, the Andalucia rally took place in Spain replacing Rally Morocco. This was my first rally, I loved it, I won Rally 2 which I had to do as I’m a rookie. I had some great stage times overall and most importantly, finished without any drama and safely which qualified me for the Dakar.
Dirt Hub: When we last spoke you also said you were learning how to read a road book, how is that coming along?
David: I’ve been very limited and hardly been able to do anything of much use since Portugal in February, I’ve had a few roadbook’s made by Robert at RallyMoto for the Isle of Man, but even I struggle to get lost over here. Haha. It’s still good learning though, but importantly, I understand the concept and the rally taught me a hell of a lot, especially on the final day, that’s when I clicked with everything and had a brilliant day.
Dirt Hub: What else have you been doing in preparation for Dakar?
David: Riding enduro at home, that’s all I can do really and getting as fit as I can. Andalucia wasn’t hard physically but mentally draining which I expect Dakar to be x10. Riding the bike is the easy part, there are so so many things going on, speed zones, way points, navigation, trip meters etc etc, it’s not a case of pinning it and following tracks, you have GOT to follow that roadbook 100%
Dirt Hub: How has Covid affected your preparations?
David: Completely messed it all up, but I guess it’s the same for most people and you’ve just got to crack on as best you can. You’ve got to make the most of a bad situation!
Dirt Hub: Have you been getting advice from anyone who has done the Dakar?
David: Not really, I’ve spoken to Jamie McCanney a little and obviously Henk who runs the team, but for me, I think you’ve got to do it your own way and learn from mistakes like I’ve done my whole career. Yes, little bits of info here and there is really helpful, but racing an actual event is the best way to do it, and as long as you don’t take any unnecessary risks and ride at 80% instead of 100% so you can learn safely, it should be ok. I look at it like a newcomer to the Isle of Man TT, you need a few years to learn it. Finishing everyday and slowly improving is the best way, learning something new each day like I did in Spain.
To show your support to David and donate to the cause visit the Gofundme page here >> https://www.gofundme.com/f/knighter-to-dakar-2021
To watch the latest Dirty Torque Show Featuring David and World Enduro Champion Steve Holcombe >>CLICK HERE<<