He'll be the only Italian to start with a factory bike. Alessandro Botturi puts the disappointment of the last Dakar behind him and is ready to turn the page with the 2017 edition. The competition will be tougher than ever, but he'll try to give his rivals a hard time, with a clear goal in mind.
There are just a few days to go Alessandro. Are you starting to feel the tension?
“Yes. The Christmas holidays are a chance to spend time with family with your nearest and dearest, but at the same time you know that the day is drawing closer. I'm trying to relax and enjoy these final days, because on 28 December we leave for Paraguay and then it all starts in earnest”.
What kind of Dakar will it be?
“I hope to redeem myself after a very unlucky 2016 edition. I expect a physical race, unfortunately my last appearance was tough from the outset, due to a problem with my wrist. Each evening I had to head to the camping area to get seen to, without even thinking about my bike”.
How are you after the injury?
“I had surgery in February. Unfortunately I missed the “Merzouga”, but I feel fit and ready for my seventh Dakar. I've trained at the gym, and also on my bicycle, while in recent months I've continued to prepare in Morocco to get into the race climate".
This year the race will reach 5000 metres in altitude. Will the Bolivian stages be key?
“I think so yes. Bolivia can make the difference, both in terms of the entry and exit phases. We'll be at high altitude and anything can happen, especially with the extreme conditions we'll be facing”.
What is the Botturi approach?
“This year I want to be consistent, unlike the last edition where I was on the attack from day one. I'd like to close each stage inside the top ten, aware that navigation is my strength. I believe I can stay inside the top ten, without worrying too much about my adversaries”.
Are you thinking about your contract with Yamaha that is about to expire?
“I'm trying to stay focused on this race, because the Dakar takes a lot of effort and concentration. I'd like to continue my journey with Yamaha of course, because I feel good with the team and have all I need”.
Will you all be out to beat Price in the 2017 Dakar?
“He's the winner, so he starts out as favourite. But I wouldn't underestimate Barreda. In the past, he's proved to be very competitive and could surprise everyone this time around ”.