James Hillier set to take on 2022 Dakar Rally challenge

Isle of Man TT race winner James Hillier is due to embark on a new challenge which will see him take on the Dakar Rally in 2022.

The 2013 Lightweight TT winner will join forces with the Rich Energy OMG Racing team for the Dakar. Hillier will become the first TT winner, and only the second TT rider ever, to take on the world’s most extreme off-road sport.

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“Being involved with the Dakar project with RICH Energy OMG Racing is seriously exciting,” Hillier said. “It’s a massive task but I have full faith in the team and can’t wait to continue our preparations with some more testing and a few rally events as soon as possible to really settle into this new challenge.”

Hillier will contest a number of ancillary off-road events in preparation for the gruelling Dakar event which sees riders regularly cover over 500 miles per day over a 12-day endurance event containing timed stages. 

Hillier will have a KTM 450 Rally at his disposal. KTM won the Dakar for 18 consecutive years before Ricky Brabec ended their streak for Honda this year. Hillier is also set to compete in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and Dubai International Baja events, subject to ongoing Coronavirus restrictions.

Alongside his new challenge, Hillier has also resigned for the Rich Energy OMG Racing team for the 2021 road racing season, following the cancellation of 2020 events, with the squad making their debut at the TT. 

“I’m really pleased to continue with RICH Energy OMG Racing for the 2021 season,” Hillier added. “Although we weren’t able to race the bike this season due to the pandemic, I feel really settled within the team and our testing programme alongside the British Superbike riders at Monteblanco and Jerez went very well.

“We’ve now got more time to continue developing the bike ahead of next season’s racing, to ensure we’re right on the pace once things do get underway.”

This latest project adds to a growing portfolio within the Rich Energy OMG Racing setup. Alongside their Bennetts British Superbike Championship commitments, the organisation also sponsors the factory BMW team in the World Superbike Championship, as well as WSB rider Alvaro Bautista. The #SupportedByOMG campaign also helps to develop younger riders and teams within the BSB support classes and grassroots competitions.

“We’re very excited to continue working with James for the 2021 roads season and also on our newly announced Dakar project, which will see us take on the world’s toughest endurance race and the world’s first road race in the same 12 months,” team owner Alan Gardner commented.

“It was massively disappointing to not have the opportunity to get out on the roads this year after all the hard work the team and riders have put in, but we’re already preparing the bikes for 2021.

“The Dakar will be a huge milestone and shows just how far we have come as a team. Combined with our commitments from grassroots level in the OMG Ohvale Cup, right up to elite sports championships on circuits, roads and now off-road.”