Australian off-road and ISDE winner to join KTM Factory Racing in Dakar bid.
Reigning Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC) and International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) title-holder Daniel Sanders has signed with KTM Factory Racing in a bid to compete in the 2021 Dakar Rally.
The 26-year-old will transition from the Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team to the works KTM rally squad, effective immediately after the pandemic put an end to his AORC defence.
Sanders will make his official debut aboard a KTM 450 Rally in the Spanish-based Andalucia Rally from 6-10 October, which should enable him to qualify for January’s Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia. He previously rode for KTM Factory Racing in EnduroGP during 2017.
“I’m really excited to join the KTM Factory Racing team and start my rally career,” Sanders said. “I have to admit, it’s something I have always wanted to do, but was perhaps planning to get into it a little later.
“As it stands, with the current worldwide pandemic, there’s not that much racing going on, so when this opportunity came up to join the rally team, I grabbed it with both hands! I’ve had a few days on the bike so far and some time getting to grips with the road book and I think it’s gone pretty well.
“The bike is great and handles so well, it’s really stable at speed. I know I have a lot of knowledge to gain, but Jordi [Viladoms] and the rest of the team have been great.
“I feel like I’ve fitted in really easily and it’s obvious that everyone works really hard for a common goal. I’m looking forward to getting some more time on the bike and then my first race here in Spain next month.”
Sanders will form part of the KTM Factory Racing team in a junior capacity alongside countryman Toby Price, as well as Matthias Walkner and Sam Sunderland – all winners of the Dakar Rally with KTM.
“It’s great to have a rider of Daniel’s skill join the team,” KTM rally team manager Jordi Viladoms explained. “Already he has shown he’s got really good pace on the bike but is also a very fast learner in terms of the road book and navigation.
“It’s been invaluable to have him here in Spain to get him up to speed with everything and meet the whole KTM rally family. The plan is to take Daniel through the same teaching procedure we have been through with all of the riders that have previously come into the team from another discipline.
“He will ride for the KTM Factory Racing team in a junior capacity to minimise the pressure on him and allow him to develop his skills on the bike. Hopefully, he will contest the Dakar next January and then follow our full FIM Cross-Country Rallies program for the rest of the year.”
KTM Vice vice president motorsports off-road Robert Jonas added: “We’re really happy that Daniel is joining our rally program. I am confident that with the team’s experience in developing riders that are new to the sport we will enjoy a highly successful relationship in the next chapter of Daniel’s career.
“Daniel has raced within our family for many years now and we know that he will be a positive asset to our rally team with his attitude and talent.
“Our main priority for him, like previously with Toby and Matthias, is to take it step by step whilst learning from all of the knowledgeable people around him. He is already testing with the team and we’re looking forward to supporting him on his journey to racing at events such as the Dakar Rally.”