Dakar Tour Portugal
The next generation

Dakar’s family in Portugal/ Credit: A.S.O./Pedro Barreiros 

Key points

• Ruben Faria announces his plan to return to the Dakar in the future in the Side by Side category.
• The Portuguese riders and drivers, of which 15 took part in the 2017 Dakar (11 of whom competed in the bike category) are particularly motivated by the 40th edition of the Dakar.
• The next generation is on its way with new competitors like António Maio, who is a two-time off-road national champion and who is aiming to be in Lima this coming January.

The Dakar Tour paid a visit Friday evening to Sertã, in Portugal, home of the Baja TT do Pinhal. This was an ideal context to present to off-road enthusiasts the 40th edition of the Dakar, which will take place in Peru, Bolivia and Argentina in January 2018. There is already a long-standing relationship between the Dakar and Portugal, which hosted the start in 2006 and 2007. The Dakar community came together another time in Lisbon in 2008 just prior to the cancellation of the rally. It is also about men with well-known competitors such as Ruben Faria, Helder Rodrigues, Paulo Gonçalves and Carlos Sousa, who finished 4th in the car category in 2003, which today is inspiring a new generation. In 2017, Portugal set its participation record with 15 competitors, including 11 in the bike category!

The prospects for the next edition look to be just as good. Many have taken part this season in the preparatory rallies like the Merzouga Rally. Mario Patrao, who finished 13th on the 2016 Dakar and won the Marathon category, completed the Merzouga Rally in 7th place. Winner of seven national off-road championships in Portugal, Mario Patrao is now focusing his career on rally-raiding with the Dakar as his primary objective. Joaquim Rodrigues (Hero MotoSports) also deserves some attention. Rodrigues finished 10th on the 2017 Dakar in his maiden participation (2nd best rookie) and 9th at Merzouga. António Maio is another member of the next generation. Maio is a two-time national off-road champion in Portugal and was leading the Dakar Challenge on the Merzouga Rally but retired on the penultimate stage with a blown engine.

Among the veterans, Ruben Faria made an announcement that drew quite a bit of attention! The runner-up on the 2013 Dakar and current competition manager for the Husqvarna team said that he would like to return to the Dakar one day at the wheel of a side-by-side.

Whether they are rally stars, thriving professional competitors or enlightened amateurs, the Portuguese reaffirmed during this conference their attachment to the Dakar.