1. The road to Dakar has been extremely long and tough. You must be a relieved man now?
It's like I have been racing at 100 miles an hour through the desert this whole year! I have had so much to do off the bike, that this year has been crazy. But, in a way, all this struggle is also what adds to my strength and makes me who I am.
2. How did the association with Red Bull come along?
Red Bull came along when I decided to go international through Kini Red Bull. They got me a ride on the coveted factory support team, KTM Red Bull team. Heinz Kinigadner has helped me in my foray into cross country rallies, and I am really excited, because now I have access to all the infrastructure that Red Bull brings to this world of motorsports, and they will help me grow as an athlete.
3. From competing exclusively in sprint format sport (motocross and supercross) to the most demanding endurance event in the world – what is different?
Well, the skills that I acquired racing Supercross/Motocross has laid the best foundation. Cross country events required controlled aggression, and having the knowledge on how much to risk at any given point in a stage. A lot of it is being smart and paying attention to the terrain as much as you can, and trying to ride efficiently. Supercross is, trying to go as fast as you can and expend as much energy as possible in pursuit of cutting down those lap times - a high intensity, leave-nothing-on-the-table sort of deal.
4. Marathon stages are a new challenge this time around – where you have to compete independent of your crew. Do you think it will be a challenge for a Dakar novice like you?
As you know, I don’t have a past experience at the Dakar, so whatever comes my way this year, I will have to try and get on top of the situation. I will solely rely on my strength to be able to adapt. It makes no difference to me because no matter what, those 15 days are going to be the hardest of my life and I’m ready to suffer!
5. How has the prep been coming along so far?
I have tried to put in as much time training as possible, which has been hard for me because I have had to take care of so many things for an event like this. Nevertheless, at this point in time, I’m the wisest I have ever been, and my fitness has been where I would like it to be, so expect my best performance.
6. They say experience is everything in an event like Dakar – what are your expectations on your debut, in terms of results?
Well you said it - me going into the Dakar is to earn that experience by making the finish. In its truest form, it will be the ultimate adventure for me! I look forward to making that finish, and the results will eventually come.
7. Tell us a little about your machine and the support crew that's helping you over 9000 kilometers?
Well, I’m on a KTM Factory-supported team, and as I know, they have the best machine and crew working under that tent. These guys bring in tons of experience, and I hope to use that to my knowledge. The bike is the all new KTM 450 Rally Replica.