As the 46th edition of the Dakar Rally enters the home stretch to the finish in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, the world’s toughest Motorsport race has lived up to its billing and once again delivered nail-biting adventure and almost unbearable heartache.
The Dakar Rally is an event for adventurers first and foremost, and while many of these intrepid riders are signed up to well-funded Manufacturer and Factory teams, there is one group of riders who truly embody the spirit of the pioneers as they take on Saudi Arabia’s rugged and varied terrain, unassisted.
These determined competitors are riding in the Original by Motul Class (previously the Malle Moto Class). They face the ultimate test of endurance and resourcefulness as they must brave the conditions solo, without team support, technical assistance, motorhomes, or extensive sponsorships. They must pack everything they need for the entire event into a single trunk (Malle Moto literally translates to Trunk Motorcycle) and maintain their bike, body and mind throughout the two-week-long event. This category is sponsored by major event partner Motul, who provide each rider in the category with their superior oils and lubricants designed to ensure optimum performance in even the most challenging conditions.
As a testament to the character and determination of the Original by Motul Class competitors, just 5 of the 26 starters in this category have dropped out so far in this year’s event, with only two days remaining. This compares to an overall attrition rate of over 50% across all other categories including top names like Sam Sunderland, Skyler Howes and Joan Barreda in the bike category. All 3 of these riders were in with a chance for a podium this year and instead are now watching from the sidelines.
The Original by Motul Class riders come from all corners of the world and all walks of life; from fearless firemen to ambitious businessmen, intrepid mountaineers and those carrying on family legacies. This eclectic mix spans all ages while being united by a common desire for adventure and a determination to live life to the full.
Rookie entrant Tobias Ebster currently holds a lead of just over one hour at the front of the Original by Motul Class pack. He is the nephew of Dakar and Motocross legend Heinz Kinigadner, who won several stages across seven Dakar Rallies in the 1980s and 1990s but was denied a finish on each occasion by a series of mechanical breakdowns and injuries. Ebster is determined to break the family jinx and emerge victorious, an achievement which would undoubtedly make his uncle proud.
Gioele Meoni is also making his first attempt at the Dakar Rally. He is on a quest to honour the legacy of his late father, two-time Dakar Rally winner Fabrizio Meoni, who tragically lost his life during the 2005 event. Gioele’s main aim is to complete the Rally, after which he will auction his bike to raise funds for the Fabrizio Meoni Foundation’s school-building programme in Senegal. He is currently in 6th position with 2 stages to go.
US soldier Kyle McCoy, who completed 5 tours of duty in Afghanistan, returns to the Dakar with a sense of unfinished business. McCoy brought a team of 5 US riders, including himself, to the event in 2022 in an attempt to get more US riders to finish the toughest class in the Rally; ultimately, only one did – and it wasn’t McCoy! He is back to get that finisher’s medal for himself, with his determination echoing the resilience found in the heart of a warrior. McCoy is currently sitting 11th in the Original by Motul class.
South African Charan Moore, the 2023 winner of the Original by Motul Class, shares his thoughts on what’s needed to go the distance in this most demanding of categories: “Firstly, what’s really important is that you need to have a very good mechanical understanding of how your bike works, because you’re the one who has to fix it if it breaks. Your knowledge needs to extend across electronics, hydraulics, engines, suspension… the whole lot! In 2023 I had all the difficulties; my bike had a slow leak from Day 1, and I also had fuel pump issues in that first week. Then the motor went, and I had to change it by myself, which was a major challenge and lead to a time penalty for the engine change that nearly cost me my win. And just for good measure I also had radiator issues the very next day that needed fixing. Fortunately, I was able to overcome these challenges, push hard and still take the win!”
Moore continues: “Which brings me to the next critical element: if you want to finish, you need to be able to manage yourself and your immediate environment. Time management, body management, bike management and nutrition are all crucial to success because fatigue is the enemy of planning. When you’re typically up at 4am every day after sleeping in a tent on the ground, and you’re on the bike in the toughest conditions for at least another 8 hours, your mental stamina comes into play because it takes a minimum of 3 hours to prep the bike in the evening for the next stage. You then still need to set up a tent, have dinner and catch a shower, if you’re lucky, and all of this makes for a very long day, for 2 solid weeks.”
Moore is competing in Rally 2 of the 2024 Dakar Rally, as the updated rules stipulate that winners of the Original by Motul category cannot compete in this class again. Charan is currently sitting in 9th in this class.
“At Motul, we have always embodied the same pioneering spirit that the riders in the Original by Motul Class must demonstrate if they are to succeed,” commented Mercia Jansen, Motul Area Manager for Southern and Eastern Africa. “Throughout our history, we’ve consistently pushed boundaries in our quest for ultimate performance, which is why we’re delighted to sponsor the toughest category in the most demanding Rally-Raid race in the world,” she added.
As this press release was being prepared for publication, we received the very sad news that Dakar Rally competitor Carles Falcon, who was injured in a heavy fall on Stage 2, has succumbed to his injuries at a hospital in his native Spain. Our thoughts are with his friends and family at this very difficult time.
Motul is a world-class French company with over 170 years of experience in the specialised formulation, production and distribution of high-tech engine lubricants (for two-wheelers, cars and other vehicles), as well as lubricants for industry via its Motul Tech division.
Since its inception in 1853, Motul has been recognised for the quality of its products, commitment to innovation and involvement in competition, and is also acknowledged as a specialist in synthetic lubricants. In 1971, Motul was the first lubricant manufacturer to pioneer the formulation of a 100% synthetic lubricant, derived from the aeronautical industry and making use of esters technology: 300V lubricant.
Motul partners with many manufacturers and racing teams in order to further their technological product development through experience gained in motorsports. It has served as an official supplier for teams competing in iconic Road racing, Trials, Enduro, Endurance, Superbike, Supercross, Rallycross and World GT1 events, including 24 Hours of Le Mans (cars and motorcycles), 24 Hours of Spa, Le Mans Series, Andros Trophy, the Dakar Rally and the Roof of Africa.
Issued on behalf of Motul by Listen Up
Picture Caption: Tobias Ebster currently in the lead of the Original by Motul Class in the 2024 edition of the Dakar Rally, image by Motul
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