2016 Dakar contenders: Jordi Viladoms

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There are a lot of expectations for the 38th edition of the Dakar, which will take place on January 2-16 in Argentina and Bolivia. The route will lead the 354 race vehicles from the start in Buenos Aires to Uyuni in Bolivia and then on the return journey to Rosario over 14 race days, covering more than 9,000 kilometres, with approximately 4,500 km against the clock.

Universally recognized as the toughest rally in the world, the riders who enrol on the Dakar have the finishing line at the forefront of their minds. This goal is seen as an achievement in itself, but to triumph in Rosario, the winner will have to display special talent in navigation, stamina and mechanical skills.

After the Coma and Despres era, triumphant on the last 10 editions, the bike category is open to a renewal of generations. It didn’t happen since 1999, when Stephane Peterhansel switched to the car category after the record of six Dakar wins on a bike. The number one spot is up for grabs and this unexpected scenario offers veterans and newcomers the possibility to shine and to Honda and Yamaha the chance to interrupt KTM supremacy of 14 consecutive successes.

The battle is open and a victory from a different rider is expected everyday. Paolo Gonçalves, Toby Price, Helder Rodrigues, Jordi Viladoms, Olivier Pain or Ruben Faria have already climbed on the final podium, but the list of the pretenders to the title is much longer and you cannot rule out Joan Barreda, Matthias Walkner or Pablo Quintanilla. A real pity for the fast and talented KTM factory rider Sam Sunderland, out from the Dakar due to a leg injury suffered in the last Merzouga Rally.

Name: Jordi Viladoms (ESP)

Age: 35

Bike/team 450 Rally Replica KTM – Red Bull KTM Factory Team

Dakars raced: 9

Dakar record: best result: 2nd (2014)

2015: withdrawn at stage 8
2014: 2nd
2013: withdrawn at stage 10
2012: 4th
2011: 10th
2010: withdrawn at stage 3
2009: 7th
2008: 6th (Dakar Series of Central Europe)
2007: withdrawn (1 Stage win)
2006: withdrawn at stage 13

Stage wins or best stage result: 1 Stage win (2007)

Second in 2014, the talented Catalan went no further than stage 8 in 2015. For 2016, he continues in KTM, which will be without Marc Coma, team leader since 2003. Now it is Viladoms’ turn to lead the troops. Ambitions are high for this veteran who celebrates his 10-year Dakar anniversary. Jordi Viladoms comes into this Dakar after an intense preparation and with the legitimate ambition of a top rider who can rely on his experience and navigation skills, but also his KTM 450 Rally Replica with which he has ridden for the past three years.

Maria Guidotti

By Maria Guidotti