Dakar 2023 – recap of the first week

Dakar 2023, summary of the first week with two Italian riders in the top 50, many retirements, storms and the empty quarter that is yet to come.

Skyler Howes dakar 2023 dunes
Skyler Howes-Ph. Gooden ASO

The Dakar rally, which started on 1 January as always, this year too winds its way along a very long coast to coast of Saudi Arabia, with lots of new and unforeseen events.

The Italians in the race mainly ride motorbikes and cars, especially in the Classic category and we have Oscar Polli as our special correspondent, “captain” of the Tecnosport team and coach of Lorenzo Maria Fanottoli who is taking his revenge for the unfortunate debut of the previous year.

But the first protagonist of the Dakar rally 2023 is the weather, which this year brought all the riders in each category to their knees. We've seen stages cancelled, trucks and cars stuck in rivers and streams that have sprung up out of nowhere torrential rains. Even the bivouac suffered, forcing ASO (the organization that manages the Dakar Rally) to move it and equip itself to meet the difficulties of the many participants.

But let's get back to the pilots. In the lead, the best riders in the category motorcycle, are challenging each other in a matter of seconds and minutes, which is truly incredible for a rally. Skyler howes leads the rally followed a few meters from Price, Benavides e Van Beveren. The terrain and the very tough conditions this year have forced the withdrawal of several champions such as Sam Sunderland, Ricky Brabec and Joan barred.

dakar 2023 dunes rocks rally Lorenzo Fanottoli oscar chickens
Lorenzo Fanottoli

To hold on for the Italians we have Paul Lucci, in 17th position and Lorenzo Maria Fanottoli in 48th position. The "Fano" is holding on after a tiring and difficult week, not without light and unexpected injuries, but having the coach by his side (Oscar Chickens) is proving to be very useful, for conserving energy, concentration and knowing how to manage the missing stages, which are still many and very complex, especially now that the paths have moved to theempty quarter, with huge dunes and the very nothingness of the desert.

Fwd Fantic team stay in the saddle alone Franco Picco, after Alex Salvini's retirement, but we saw him a bit tried at this edition. We know that Franco is iron, but this year David castera he went there with an iron fist in tracing the route. Among the other Italians out of the race there are also: Tommaso Montanari and Tiziano Internò.

In the Classic category, the Tecnosport team, with many cars and their drivers in the top positions of the regularity tests such as Garosci and Briani, Wells and Teeth, Casella and Buonamano, among the top 20. A really close-knit and well-prepared team, capable of following so many cars as well as assisting Fanottoli on his motorbike.

The race, which entered its second week today, is about to become epic, not only for the incredible passage in the empty quarter but also for the weather conditions, the cold and the navigation difficulties. In short, if last year was a tourist excursion in the desert, this year the Dakar is back to hell as always.