Andrew Short 2020 Dakar Interview

Dakar is a life-changing experience.

Andrew Short
Andrew Short has had a rough start to his 2020 Dakar Rally, suffering a big crash in the second stage. Still, the former Supercross racer continues on pushing for a better result than his sixth place in 2019.Husqvarna

Three years ago, the arrival of Andrew Short in the Dakar Rally bivouac didn’t pass unnoticed. His successes in Supercross and Motocross were his passport, and for the majority of the riders he was still “Shorty” from Supercross. He had to start from scratch in the new discipline, with the enthusiasm of a rookie and the experience of a professional rider who knows how to deal with pressure and how to prepare himself for the ultimate challenge of the Dakar Rally. After a 17th overall position in 2018 and a sixth in 2019, the Husqvarna rider started his third Dakar as one of the main contenders for the podium in Saudi Arabia.

Dakar lands in a completely new and mostly unknown country. How do you prepare for the unknown?

This is my third Dakar, and I know what to expect in terms of riding. We will discover new terrain, but we know the daily routine: early start, long days, and this year also freezing nights. We have gloves and racing gear with batteries for heating for the early start in the north. It took some time to pack all the necessities in a few gear bags, but it’s part of the fun. That’s what rally is all about. You’ve got to adapt and be fast each day.

It’s been two years of “apprenticeship” before being counted as a true contender. Did you expect quicker results?

I think I underestimated the change a bit. I knew how to ride a motorcycle really fast, but in rally raid this is not enough. The key is to learn to read the desert and understand when the terrain is dangerous, when you have to slow down, and when, on the contrary, you can push. In my first Dakar, I learned it at my expense; I crashed heavily, and I was really lost. It took me almost three years, but now I feel competitive.

Was it difficult with the navigation?

When I got lost during Dakar, I was with other people. You’re not scared, but you stress out because you are losing time. On the other hand, I have experienced several scary moments when I got lost while I was training alone.

What is the secret to winning at Dakar?

Pushing the limit a bit forward every time while still remaining on the edge. In my first (two) years, I didn’t know the edge, so this was dangerous. You are either too crazy or too conservative, and you regret afterward. Only experience can help you. You try to be on the edge for as long as possible, and for sure at some point you will crash or get lost. This is the challenge of Dakar, and the reason some people are really good at it.

Andrew Short at Dakar
Knowing how far to push without going over the edge is key to winning Dakar says Short.Husqvarna

What about keeping your concentration for five to six hours on the bike?

From day one, I embrace the race at its fullest. It’s a full immersion from 3 a.m. to 10 p.m. I’m not listening to music, thinking of home, or putting my mind somewhere else other than racing. When I’m preparing the gear, I am preparing the gear. When I’m marking the road book, I’m fully focused. I’m present in each step.

What is special about Dakar? It’s a life-changing experience and a challenge. I love the bivouac because it’s full of passion. It’s a special group of people. There are many wealthy people, but no matter how much money you have or who you are, we all are in the same adventure.

Dakar Rally
Short says racing the Dakar Rally makes you realize just how big the world is.Husqvarna

No one returns the same from Dakar…

When you are racing, the pressure you put on yourself is so high that, at some point, you become numb from the stress. You need to deal with it, and also deal with the surprises around every corner. It changes your mindset. When you are back, the way of facing problems also changes. You also realize that the world is much bigger than you initially thought. It was great to meet the local people and the whole circus of the rally made of 50 nationalities. It makes you realize the world you live, it’s just a small bubble. Dakar expands your mindset. It makes you appreciative for everything you have.