Joined: Jun 2008
Location: Durango CO
Based on an interview I'd say he has a good chance of finishing, as that is his goal. If Ned can get to the finish line with his skills as a privateer, certainly it isn't s stretch to think KC could do the same with factory support. Unless he has to give up bike parts to one of the front runners...
From Vurb: http://vurboffroad.com/blogs/kurt-ca...ke-dakar/1189/
With years of success under his belt, FMF/KTM rider Kurt Caselli has taken on the off-road world both domestically, and internationally. But one thing is missing from his resume; a Dakar finish. Today news broke that Caselli would be replacing Marc Coma, a usual top contender in the two-week competition. Coma injured his shoulder in October, and is still unable to compete at a top level with such little recovery time. Someone needed to fill his spot, who would be better than one of the best endurance racers in the Nation? So we jumped into action for an interview with Caselli to talk about the big news.
So Kurt, it's just been announced you're racing the Dakar rally for the first time, how do you feel?
Well, it's always been on my bucket list of things to do in life, with my career, and I always told people that I wanted to start shifting my efforts of racing WORCS and off-road towards Baja-style and then eventually to some rally and Dakar. So that's been in the back of my mind for the last 5-6 years of racing and everything.
To then get call a couple of days ago, and my boss asking me if I wanted to do it. It's kind of one of those things where obviously my first reaction is “Sure, of course I want to go. It's my goal, I can't believe I'm getting this opportunity.” Then I hang up the phone with him and then I went “Oh crap, what did I get myself into?” I'm really excited, I can't believe I have this opportunity this early in my career. I still feel like I've got a lot of learning to do in Baja and just in off-road in general. I've been doing it my whole like but I feel like you never stop learning and Dakar is a whole different type of deal, it's more of a thinking race, you have to be a lot smarter, than just purely fast. I've got my work cut out for me, I definitely need to step up and just focus on finishing, which is what the factory want. They've said that right from the get-go, "We don't have any expectations, we just want you to finish.” That's good, that takes a lot off my shoulders, I know I get over there on a last minute effort and I just want to have a good time and to learn and have a good experience and hopefully do well. Obviously I want to do good but I want to learn enough to go back and be competitive in the next few years. A lot's going through my mind but I feel excited and definitely ready to go down there.
You really haven't got much time before it kicks off (14 days), what can you do to prepare yourself before this race starts?
Well, physically I feel like I’m up to par. I’ve recovered from an injury I had earlier this year and I’ve been working really hard with my trainer so I don't really have a doubt that my body is able, I feel like I’m ready and I haven't stopped training so I'm not worried about. I think just mentally preparing myself for the whole adventure I guess. I got a list of a few things from Chris Blais and a few other guys who have gone and e-mailed me a list of survival gear and it was kind of like, “Oh dear, I guess I need to get over and start gathering some different things.” So I'm gathering those things and obviously you carry a lot with you while you're riding, so I need to get all the tools necessary that I’m going to use and need down there and hopefully some stuff that I won't need. It's just a lot of last minute preparation on my end that I'm trying to figure out in this next week. A lot of my sponsors are running around last minute getting me the right gear and all that kind of stuff, so it's cool to be able to pull the trigger this late, and still have that support and know that by the time I fly out at the end of this month, I'll pretty much have everything ready and should be as prepared as I can be by the time I leave.
Are you watching videos from previous years, trying to get an idea of what you're going to attempting in January?
With the way things are now I can just jump on a computer and start watching Youtube videos and interviews and how-to's on reading navigation and there's just a whole different aspect of this type of racing that is unknown and I’m not sure about. It's obviously just getting down there and getting my feet wet and learning as I go is going to be the biggest thing and so that's kind of what's cool. I'm looking forward to it being a longer race because I have so much to learn and I feel like come the end of the race I'll be a lot more on top of things than I am at the beginning, so hopefully I can have a good last few days and finish the race a lot stronger than I started it.
You said the team haven't put any pressure on you, other than to finish, what are you hoping to achieve, what are your goals for the race?
I've always been a realistic person, I don't want to talk any crap, this is something completely different for me, same as Baja, I went down there with lower expectations to do well and finished up towards the front. With Dakar, it's a totally different element where it's not so much purely a speed race, it's a lot of thinking, a lot of navigation and I really don't feel like I’m lacking very much physically, I feel like riding the bike, I’ll do fine. It's just figuring out the logistics of it, and the navigation and everything like that I really need to be open-minded about. I obviously want to finish and I want to be able to learn as much as I can. I have absolutely no top 10 or top 20 goals, it doesn't matter to me as long as I get to the finish. Really the biggest achievement for myself is just being invited. It's something a lot of people would love to do in their lifetime and a lot of people don't get the opportunity and some of the people that do, I know it's left a lasting impression on their life. I'm excited, just being invited and having the opportunity is huge for me, and the rest of it... we'll see how it goes.
So is this your reward from KTM for being successful in all the race you've with the company?
For sure, it all comes down to just being with KTM for my whole career and obviously I wouldn't be here without them. My career has been solely funded and pushed by KTM off-road and to have the extra effort of KTM Europe stepping in and noticing that I want to do Dakar and calling me up. I'm so grateful to be with a company that's so involved and so understanding of their riders. A lot manufacturers, they just want to see results and that's it. Where as KTM take a lot of pride in building champions and putting structured goals for all their riders, they want to put together a programme that 3,4,5 years down the road the riders are doing well and starting to excel. I owe it all to KTM, I wouldn't be going if it wasn't for them and I wouldn't even have got to where I am today without them, so I'm so grateful and thankful for their support, I obviously want to just go there and do as well as I can for them.
I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure
No bike does everything perfectly. In fact, no bike does anything until someone gets on it to ride.