Dakar Rally Meets MotoGP

Jurgen van den Goorbergh embraces “Malle Moto” challenge.

Jurgen van den Goorbergh race action shot

In the Dakar Rally, the name “Jurgen van den Goorbergh” stands out. The ex-MotoGP rider likes challenges, and the great marathon rally has long been his passion. In his 2009 Dakar motorcycle debut, “The Flying Dutchman” finished a remarkable 17th; he’s also competed in a buggy and a truck. This year, van den Goorbergh decided to take the Malle Moto challenge.

Malle Moto is a race within a race. Riders compete alone, with no mechanic or vehicle assistance. They have two travel cases (80 liters each) and one extra set of wheels. The organization transports the cases, and once the riders arrive at the bivouac, they start to work on their bikes.

This new adventure is special for a man who lived part of his career under the MotoGP spotlight. Used to having a good team of mechanics and engineers working on his machines, he is now racing the Dakar the hardest way, like in the old days, when the rally was still in Africa.

Aboard a KTM prepared by Dakar legend Heinz Kinigadner, the Dutch rider says Malle Moto "echoes the original spirit of the race when it was in Africa. It's back to basics—the last real challenge. For me, winning this medal is the highest result you can achieve in this discipline."

Heinz Kinigadner and Jurgen van den Goorbergh portrait shot

Van den Goorbergh remains a fierce competitor. “I don’t only want to just finish my class,” he said. “I want to win. My other goal is to be in the top 25 overall, and that should be fairly tough. I changed my style of riding and am probably going 10 to 15 percent slower to keep the bike in one piece.”

To win the Dakar, you need to be a complete rider. Speed is not enough without consistency, navigation, and mechanical skills. “When you ride a bike, you are exposed, so the number-one priority is to protect your body,” van den Goorbergh said. “In the Malle Moto class, you also need to be a good mechanic; you can count on only yourself. Race strategy is crucial, together with navigation skills.”

Van den Goorbergh is also racing for another cause: Wings For Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation, which was started by Kinigadner and Red Bull founder, Dietrich Mateschitz. In 2003, Kinigadner’s son, Hannes, suffered a spinal-cord accident, which left him a quadriplegic.

“In May, I’ll be taking part in the World Run in my home city of Breda, Netherland,” van den Goorbergh said. “The marathon organized by Wings for Life supports spinal-cord research.”

After stage 6, van den Goorbergh was 42nd overall. His main rival in the Malle Moto class is the Swede Anders Berglund. American Antonio Narino is also competing in Malle Moto, but he has a different goal: finish the race.

Heinz Kinigadner and Jurgen van den Goorbergh.

Jurgen van den Goorbergh.

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